Is UFO a sign of alien life?

Re­li­gious lead­ers are di­vided on the Ou­mua­mua ob­ject as sci­en­tists try to un­ravel its sight­ing

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - KWANDOKUHLE NJOLI kwan­dokhule.njoli@inl.co.za

RE­LI­GIOUS lead­ers in Dur­ban are mixed in their views about alien life.

This fol­lows a sug­ges­tion from sci­en­tists at Har­vard Univer­sity in the US that a cigar-shaped ob­ject that tum­bled through our so­lar sys­tem in Oc­to­ber last year, was a probe sent by an in­tel­li­gent alien life form to spy on us.

The ob­ject was called “Ou­mua­mua” which means “a mes­sen­ger that reaches out from the dis­tant past” in Hawai­ian. It was picked up by the PANSTARRS 1 tele­scope in Hawaii.

Since its dis­cov­ery, sci­en­tists have been at odds as they tried to ex­plain its un­usual fea­tures and ori­gins.

Re­searchers first called it a comet, then an as­teroid. When the ob­ject failed to sat­isfy the cri­te­ria of ei­ther, they la­belled it a first of its kind: a new class of “in­ter­stel­lar ob­jects”.

Given its high speed and its un­usual tra­jec­tory, the red­dish, sta­dium-sized what­ever-it-is clearly came from out­side our so­lar sys­tem.

But its flat­tened, elon­gated shape and the way it ac­cel­er­ated through the so­lar sys­tem set it apart from con­ven­tional as­ter­oids and comets.

In a pa­per, re­searchers at the Har­vard Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for As­tro­physics raised the pos­si­bil­ity that the elon­gated dark-red ob­ject, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and trav­elled at speeds of more than 300000km/h, could be of “ar­ti­fi­cial ori­gin”.

“Ou­mua­mua may be a fully op­er­a­tional probe sent in­ten­tion­ally to Earth vicin­ity by an alien civil­i­sa­tion,” they wrote in the pa­per, which has been sub­mit­ted to the Astro­phys­i­cal Jour­nal Let­ters.

The the­ory is based on the ob­ject’s “ex­cess ac­cel­er­a­tion”, or its un­ex­pected boost in speed as it trav­elled through and ul­ti­mately out of our so­lar sys­tem in Jan­uary.

Re­li­gious lead­ers also ex­pressed mixed views on the pos­si­bil­ity of other life forms.

Ac­cord­ing to Bishop Ru­bin Phillip, head of the Angli­can Church in Kwazulu-natal, God cre­ated all life in the uni­verse, not just on Earth.

As a re­sult, it was his be­lief that Chris­tian­ity could in­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of life be­yond our planet.

“The Bible talks about God cre­at­ing ev­ery liv­ing crea­ture. God cre­ated all life and not just life on Earth alone, but in the whole uni­verse.

“If life is dis­cov­ered in the uni­verse, this is not a con­tra­dic­tion of our be­liefs, be­cause God cre­ated life and we be­lieve that there is life all over,” said Bishop Phillip.

Dr Faisal Suli­man of the SA Mus­lim Net­work said there was noth­ing in the Qur’an that negated the pos­si­bil­ity of other cre­ations in the uni­verse.

“Yes, we be­lieve that we may not be the only cre­ations in the uni­verse.

“The Qur’an does not say that we are the only cre­ation,” said Suli­man.

How­ever, Ash­win Trikam­jee, pres­i­dent of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, re­jected the no­tion of alien life.

“Hin­duism be­lieves in Karma and that if you have been do­ing good, you come back again.

“The soul finds it­self an­other body to live in.

“There­fore there is no space for any other life,” he said.

Shembe (Ebuh­leni) spokesper­son Thokozani Mncwabe also dis­missed the idea that there could be life on other plan­ets.

“I do not wish to stretch much on the mat­ter, how­ever, we strongly be­lieve that all liv­ing crea­tures are on Earth and any­thing else is a fa­ble,” said Mncwabe.

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