Professor Avi Loeb, director of the Center for Computational Astrophysics at Harvard University, said in July that the spherulites fished out of the Pacific Ocean are the remains of a meteorite that exploded near Earth in 2014. According to him, their peculiar chemical composition indicates that it could be a kind of alien technology.
His claims were criticized by a part of the scientific community, according to which they are too bold and hasty. A new analysis from the lab of University of Chicago researcher Patricia Gallard appears to offer a more realistic explanation for the origin of the mysterious metal balls. According to her, it could be a by-product of burning coal, writes Business Insider.
They can’t agree
Gallardo analyzed the chemical composition of coal ash, which is a waste product of coal combustion in power plants and steam engines. In his research, he was assisted by a publicly available database of the chemical composition of coal called COALQUAL.
The scientist concluded that the concentrations of iron, nickel, beryllium, lanthanum and uranium that Loeb and his colleagues measured in the metal spherulites were consistent with the values in the database. “Meteoritic origin is unlikely,” the scientist said.
Loeb published an article on Medium on Thursday, where he stated that Gallardo’s claims were based on non-peer-reviewed research that only superficially examined a few elements out of dozens analyzed by the professor and his team. He added that the pellets contain more iron than coal ash.
According to Loeb, during the research, his team compared the composition of spherulites and coal ash and revealed that they have completely different compositions in terms of many elements, including iron, silicon and aluminum.
During an expedition in the state of Papua New Guinea, Loeb’s team managed to fish almost 800 small metal balls from the Pacific Ocean. These tend to be the remains of meteorites, the mass of which begins to burn after crossing the atmosphere and falls to Earth. Of the 57 analyzed spherulites, five of them had a really strange and unprecedented composition. They contained excessive amounts of beryllium, lanthanum and uranium.
Scientists have also discovered special isotopes of iron in them, which support the hypothesis that they are of interstellar origin. Loeb and colleagues named these five spherulites BeLaU. The professor’s research team is currently analyzing the remaining 93 percent of the marbles they managed to fish out.
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