Over half of the 147 tigers confiscated from the Tiger Temple – a tourist attraction where visitors could take selfies with the big cats – have died in captivity within the last three years, local media reported.
The Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua or Tiger Temple, located west of Bangkok, promoted itself as a wildlife sanctuary that charged visitors admission to interact with the animals.
However, just three years ago, the government removed 147 tigers after the site was linked to wildlife trafficking.
Buddhist monks with a tiger at the tourist attraction.
(Getty Images – Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple, File)
Rescuers took the tigers to two state-run sanctuaries where many were found to be at risk of contracting canine distemper virus, Sky News reported.
“When we took the tigers in, we noted that they had no immune system due to inbreeding,” the deputy director-general, Prakit Vongsrivattanakul of Thailand’s department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation (DNP), told the state-owned broadcaster MCOT. “We treated them as symptoms came up,” he added.
Prakit didn’t give a number for exactly how many of the tigers have perished, although Thai PBS reported the numbers to be 86 out of the 147 confiscated animals, most of which were of the Siberian breed.
Many of the tigers have been dropping dead one by one since May 2016, the Bangkok Post reported.
The tiger temple had been promoted as a wildlife sanctuary, but it was investigated due to suspicions by the government regarding links to animal abuse and wildlife trafficking.
Many of its monks were accused of illegally breeding tigers, while visitors reported that some of the tigers appeared drugged, Sky News reported. The temple denied allegations of abuse and trafficking.
During the raid three years ago, Thai officials reported finding 40 dead cubs in a freezer along with 20 jars full of baby tigers and organs. A monk was reported to have tried escaping the temple in a truck carrying over 700 vials of tiger skin and teeth hidden in a suitcase.
“I am quite shocked,” Teunchai Noochdumrong, the director of the government’s wildlife conservation office, said in 2016. “We all have heard concerns and allegations about this temple. I would never have thought they would be so blatant.”
The Siberian tiger is the largest of the tigers and considered a critically endangered species whose threats to survival include poaching and habitat loss, experts have said.
From the depths of Russia’s “Atlantis” — a famed archaeological site in southern Siberia that lies underwater for most of the year — archaeologists emerged with what looks like a jewel-studded case for an iPhone.
But the black rectangle, which measures about 7 inches (18 centimeters) long and around 4 inches (9 cm) wide, is no electronics accessory; it’s an ancient belt buckle made of jet — a gemstone made from pressurized wood — inlaid with small beads of mother-of-pearl, carnelian and turquoise, The Siberian Times reported.
Scientists with the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) found the object in a woman’s grave, where it lay upon the skeleton’s pelvis. The researchers nicknamed the woman “Natasha” and dubbed the artifact “Natasha’s iPhone,” according to The Siberian Times.
Although the buckle was discovered years ago, it recently drew renewed attention because Pavel Leus, one of the dig’s archaeologists and a RAS researcher, shared the image on Instagram, Leus told Live Science in an email.
The grave that held the so-called iPhone lies in the Siberian territory of Tuva, near the border of Mongolia. There, archaeologists identified two burial sites — Terezin and Ala-Tey — dating to the Xiongnu period around 2,000 years ago, according to a study co-authored by Leus and published in 2018 in the journal Asian Archaeology.
However, there are only a few weeks each year when archaeologists can access these historically important locations, according to the Russian Geographical Society (RGS). The burial sites lie in a flood zone; they are covered by the Sayan Sea — an artificial reservoir — except when the flood waters recede, from the end of May through the first half of June, the RGS reported.
“Burials at both sites include many decorations for belts and clothing, beads, pendants, earrings, Chinese wu zhu coins, and Western Han mirrors and their fragments,” the scientists wrote in the study.
In recent years, they found large and small jet buckles in three graves. The “massive” iPhone-like buckle had holes on the short sides, “with the two round holes on one side for fixing the buckle to the belt and one oval hole on the other side, probably for clasping,” the researchers reported. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the grave’s contents dated to between 92 B.C. and A.D. 71.
Jet objects from this period are rare, but some have surfaced in Russia’s upper Volga region; in Transbaikalia, a mountainous zone to the east of Russia’s Lake Baikal; in Mongolia; and in Central Asia, Leus said. It’s possible that this type of ornament was common in Xiongnu culture and was brought west as these nomadic people migrated across the Eurasian steppes, he explained.
Rectangular bronze buckles, many of them carved with animal designs, also have been found in graves and settlements in Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia, according to a report published in 2011 by the University of Bonn in Germany.
Though bronze and jet belt buckles are sometimes found in female burials in some parts of this Central Asian region, “they are generally found in well-furnished graves of warriors,” the scientists wrote. Questions still linger about Tuva’s graves and their contents, but more discoveries are expected to be announced in the coming months, Leus said in the email.
Originally published on Live Science.
Amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere may be able to currently see Saturn, but NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken a series of images of the ringed planet that give new details about its rings, as well as its ever-changing weather.
In a blog post, NASA said the images snapped by the telescope “are more than just beauty shots,” adding that they shed new light on a planet that has “a turbulent, dynamic atmosphere.”
“This year’s Hubble offering, for example, shows that a large storm visible in the 2018 Hubble image in the north polar region has vanished,” the government agency wrote in the post. “Smaller storms pop into view like popcorn kernels popping in a microwave oven before disappearing just as quickly. Even the planet’s banded structure reveals subtle changes in color.”
The latest view of Saturn from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring system — which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings — and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world. (Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL Team)
SATURN’S MOON ENCELADUS COULD SUPPORT LIFE AS MORE EVIDENCE EMERGES
NASA also posted a video of the Hubble orbiting the moons of Saturn to its YouTube page.
NASA added that the images taken by the Hubble show that the “hexagon,” the mysterious six-sided pattern is still there on Saturn’s north pole. The hexagon, which is caused by a high-speed jet stream, was first discovered in 1981 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
The above image also gives new clarity to Saturn’s rings, which NASA said are “as stunning as ever.” It shows the ring system, which is largely made up of water ice, is tilted towards Earth. On June 20, 2019, Saturn made its closest approach to Earth, approximately 845 million miles away, the government agency added.
The sixth planet in the solar system continues to be a source of fascination for NASA. In June, the space agency unveiled the latest mission in its New Frontiers program, which is slated to explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
Known as Dragonfly, the mission will see a rotorcraft fly “to dozens of promising locations” on Titan, which could potentially support extraterrestrial life, after it arrives in 2034, following a 2026 launch.
The case for whether one of Saturn’s other moons, Enceladus, could support life has strengthened after researchers determined its ocean is likely 1 billion years old, placing it in the sweet spot, according to research published earlier this year.
Fresh off the excitement about Oumuaua, the first interstellar object in our solar system, researchers have discovered what they believe is a second interstellar object.
Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) was discovered on Aug. 30 by astronomer Gennady Borisov and, after much discussion, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said it likely originated from another system.
“Based on the available observations, the orbit solution for this object has converged to the hyperbolic elements shown below, which would indicate an interstellar origin,” the Minor Planet Electronic Circular (MPEC) wrote in a statement on behalf of the IAU.
Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)
In a separate statement, NASA JPL said the comet is approximately 260 million miles from the Sun and will reach its closest point, known as perihelion, on Dec. 8, 2019, when it gets within 190 miles of the Sun.
“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance,” said NASA JPL researcher Davide Farnocchia in a statement posted to NASA’s website. “The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space.”
Farnocchia concurred with Borisov’s findings, as did several other researchers, the MPEC added.
What’s interesting about C/2019 Q4 is that unlike other comets and asteroids, it does not have an elliptical orbit, going around in an oval, egg shape or almost perfectly circular. Instead, C/2019 Q4 is traveling on a hyperbola path, according to Space.com, a path that so far has only been seen from Oumuaua.
In January, researchers published a study that suggested Oumuaua was not one-of-a-kind and there may be many other interstellar objects floating around the Milky Way galaxy. There has also been speculation in the scientific community that Earth was hit by an interstellar object in 2014, Space.com added.
NASA JPL added that C/2019 Q4 is likely a comet “due to its fuzzy appearance, which indicates that the object has a central icy body that is producing a surrounding cloud of dust and particles as it approaches the Sun and heats up.”
Researchers hope to gather more data about Comet C/2019 Q4, as it can be seen with professional telescopes “for months to come,” with Farnocchia adding that its peak brightness will occur in mid-December and can be seen with moderate-sized telescopes until April 2020.
Given the nature of the object, the interest level in Comet C/2019 Q4 is understandably high, the MPEC added. “Further observations are clearly very desirable, as all currently-available observations have been obtained at small solar elongations and low elevations. Absent an unexpected fading or disintegration, this object should be observable for at least a year.”
It may be Friday the 13th, but don’t let the thought of a killer asteroid scare you.
NASA has discovered three near-Earth objects (NEOs) that are flying past the planet on Friday, including one that will come within 0.03561 astronomical units.
The three asteroids, 2010 RM82, 2013 CV83 and 504800 (2010 CO1), do not pose any danger to Earth and will fly safely past the planet at various times, the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said.
An artist’s concept of an asteroid approaching Earth.
(Erik Simonsen via Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images Plus)
GET SET FOR ‘SPOOKY’ FRIDAY THE 13TH HARVEST MOON
Asteroid 2010 RM82 flew past the planet at 6:38 a.m. EDT, coming within 0.04655 astronomical units (approximately 4.3 million miles) from the planet’s center, CNEOS stated. 2010 RM82 is traveling nearly 33,000 mph and has an estimated diameter of approximately 128 feet.
It is not expected to come close to Earth again until Feb. 12, 2027.
The second asteroid designated as a NEO is 2013 CV83, which flew past Earth at 8:54 a.m. EDT at approximately 29,000 mph, the agency pointed out. 2013 CV83 came within 0.04134 astronomical units of the planet and had a diameter of approximately 328 feet.
It is also not expected to come close to Earth anytime soon, with CNEOS estimating its orbit will take it close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2025.
The third and final asteroid is known as 504800 (2010 CO1), which will zip past the planet at 11:42 p.m. EDT at a distance of 0.03561 astronomical units, approximately 3.3 million miles, NASA said.
Asteroid 504800 (2010 CO1) is moving 32,000 mph and its diameter is estimated to be 853 feet. The asteroid will also fly past Earth next year, on Sept. 16, 2020, with subsequent visits in September 2021, September 2022 and September 2023. After that, it will not come near Earth again until February 2061.
Another asteroid, 2006 QV89, is slated to fly past Earth “at a comfortable distance” of 4.3 million miles on Sep. 27, 2019, CNEOS added.
NASA has been preparing for planetary defense from asteroid strikes for years. A recent survey showed that Americans prefer a space program that focuses on potential asteroid impacts over sending humans back to the moon or to Mars.
SCIENTISTS UNCOVER NEW EVIDENCE OF THE ASTEROID THAT KILLED OFF THE DINOSAURS
In 2016, NASA formalized the agency’s prior program for detecting and tracking NEOs and put it inside its Science Mission Directorate. Last June, NASA unveiled a 20-page plan that detailed the steps the U.S. should take to be better prepared for NEOs — such as asteroids and comets — that come within 30 million miles of the planet.
In addition to enhancing NEO detection, tracking and characterizing capabilities and improving modeling prediction, the plan also aims to develop technologies for deflecting NEOs, increasing international cooperation and establishing new NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.
Earlier this year, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that an asteroid strike is not something to be taken lightly and is perhaps Earth’s biggest threat.
A Civil War cannonball has been discovered lodged in a walnut tree at a historic house in Independence, Mo.
Fox 4 Kansas City reports that the incredible find at the Overfelt-Johnston house was made after the diseased 100-foot tree was cut down. When splitting the logs, Jeff Eastham, owner of Jeff’s Tree Service, said that the cannonball fell on the ground.
“I had no idea this was in there. You couldn’t see it — you couldn’t see a hole in the log,” he told Fox 4. “I was like, are you kidding me?”
“It’s thrilling,” said Randall Pratt, who owns the Overfelt-Johnston house and is working to restore the property.
Built in 1850, the Overfelt-Johnston house was used as a hospital during the First Battle of Independence in 1862, KMBC reports.
Chains were also found embedded in the tree when Eastham was cutting it down.
Other cannonballs have also been found at the property. Pratt explained that a cannonball that was shot into a window on the second floor of the house is now in the Jackson County Historical Museum.
The 1862 battle resulted in a victory for Confederate forces who surprised Union troops in the city. However, Pratt said that the Union garrison was able to fire off some cannon shots before they were overrun.
“It’s important to find these souvenirs, these novelties from the past, these tragic reminders of what the cost of war and conflict really is,” he told Fox 4.
The Overfelt-Johnston house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Two Civil War cannonballs were recently discovered on a South Carolina beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Earlier this week, a spokesman for the city of Folly Beach told Fox News that some seashell hunters spotted a suspicious item in the area of the old Coast Guard Base at the east end of the beach. “As per our policy, we notified the Charleston County EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] team who also responded and assisted with notifying the military EOD team,” the spokesman explained, via email.
“It was determined to be a cannonball (one larger 8” shell and one 3” shell),” the spokesman added. “We were advised the military EOD team will handle disposing of the ordnance.”
Aaron Lattin told Fox News that he was one of the people that discovered the cannonballs on the beach.
Other Civil War cannonballs have been found in the area. LiveScience reports that a pile of 16 corroded ordnances was uncovered as a result of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Civil War sites and artifacts from the era regularly offer fresh glimpses into the bloody conflict. A Civil War-era gravestone linked to the infamous Quantrill’s Raid, for example, was recently discovered in a Kansas forest.
Earlier this year, archaeologists in Delaware located the gravestone of a Civil War soldier that may provide a vital clue in uncovering a long-lost African-American cemetery.
Experts working at a property near Frankford, Sussex County, found the headstone bearing the name “C.S. Hall” and the details “Co. K, 32nd U.S.C.T.” This refers to Company K of the 32nd U.S. Colored Troops, which was a designation for African-American soldiers, according to Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
The site is known to the local community as containing the remains of African-Americans who lived in the area, officials say.
Other Civil War finds have also been made in recent years. Last year, for example, the remains of two Civil War soldiers were discovered in a surgeon’s burial pit at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia. Also in 2018, a vacationer on a North Carolina beach captured drone footage of Civil War-era shipwreck.
In 2017, forensic linguists said they had likely unraveled the mystery surrounding a famous Civil War-era letter, long believed to have been written by President Abraham Lincoln.
In 2015, the remains of a Confederate warship were raised from the Savannah River in Georgia. The following year, the wreck of a large iron-hulled Civil War-era steamer was discovered off the coast of North Carolina. The ship, which was found off Oak Island, N.C., was tentatively identified as the blockade runner Agnes E. Fry.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers
A rare Friday the 13th harvest moon has been thrilling skywatchers.
The full moon is the first to occur on Friday the 13th for almost 20 years and that kind of timing won’t recur for 30 years.
According to Old Farmer’s Almanac, the harvest moon is the full moon closest to the beginning of fall or the autumnal equinox.
‘SUPER BLOOD MOON’ ECLIPSE STUNS IN REMARKABLE PICTURES
The last time a full moon occurred on Friday the 13th was on Oct. 13, 2000, said the almanac. The annual periodical notes that the rare event will not occur again until Aug. 13, 2049.
Jack and Kathy Duepree, of Camden, Maine, left and center, and their friend Betsy Starman, of Naples, Fla., watch the nearly-full harvest moon rise over Penobscot Bay, Friday.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
The rare event sparked plenty of “spooky” chatter on social media.
The harvest moon is named after the harvest season with which it coincides.
APOLLO 11’S EPIC MISSION TO THE MOON IN PICTURES
“Farmers can work late into the night by the light of this moon,” explained NASA in a blog post. “The harvest moon is an old European name for this full moon; the Oxford English Dictionary cites the year 1706 for the first published use of the name.”
The Friday the 13th harvest moon rises behind the Statue of Liberty.
(Gary Hershorn, Fox News)
NASA also noted that this particular moon is important to many cultures. “Many cultures have holidays connected to this moon, including the mid-autumn festival in some East Asian countries and Chuseok in Korea.”
The harvest moon will reach its peak on Sept. 14 at 12.33 a.m. EDT, says the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
VIKRAM MOON LANDER: THE ANXIOUS WAIT FOR A SIGNAL FROM LUNAR SURFACE
Full moon rises over Hz. Hatice Mosque in the Black Sea province of Samsun, Turkey on September 13, 2019. (Photo by Veysel Altun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Players from both teams contest a corner under as full moon during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Bohemians and Waterford at Dalymount Park in Dublin. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
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The secret diary of a teenage Jewish girl who died in the Holocaust is set for publication after spending 70 years in a bank vault.
“Renia’s Diary” was written by Renia Spiegel, who was living in Poland when Nazi Germany and Russia invaded the country in September 1939. Spiegel has been described as “a Polish Anne Frank” as a result of her heartbreaking account.
The Independent reports that Spiegel began writing the diary in January of that year when she was just 14 years old. She was killed three years later by Nazi troops after they discovered her hiding place.
The book, which is already published in Poland, will be published in English this month by Penguin Books.
(Bellak Family Archive)
“When Russia and Germany invade her country, Renia’s world shatters. Separated from her mother, her life takes on a new urgency as she flees [the Polish city of] Przemysl to escape night bombing raids, observes the disappearances of other Jewish families and, finally, witnesses the creation of the ghetto,” explains Penguin, on its website. “But alongside the terror of war, there is also great beauty, as she begins to find her voice as a writer and falls in love for the first time.”
“She and the boy she falls in love with, Zygmunt, share their first kiss a few hours before the Nazis reach her hometown,” Penguin adds. “And it is Zygmunt who writes the final, heartbreaking entry in Renia’s diary.”
Penguin notes that the diary was recently rediscovered after 70 years.
“Renia’s Diary” was recently rediscovered after 70 years in a bank vault.
(Bellak Family Archive)
The 700-page diary was kept in a bank vault by Spiegel’s younger sister, the New York Post reports. “I still find it difficult to look at,” her sister, Elizabeth Bellak, told the Post last year. “It’s very painful for me.”
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Earlier this year, an ambitious but controversial social media project used Instagram to tell the heartbreaking story of Eva Heyman, a 13-year-old victim of the Holocaust.
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An extremely rare original copy of Hitler’s sinister plan to invade Britain has surfaced and will be auctioned in the U.K. this weekend.
The intelligence book formed part of Nazi Germany’s “Operation Sealion,” a proposed plan to attack Britain by sending an invasion force across the English Channel. “Informationsheft (Information booklet) G.B 106” is stamped “Geheim” (secret) in red.
HITLER’S SECRET NAZI WAR MACHINE REVEALED IN HIDDEN BASES
The intelligence book formed part of Nazi Germany’s “Operation Sealion,” a proposed plan to invade Britain.
“In 1940 in compliance with Adolf Hitler’s directive regarding the imminent invasion of Britain, SS General Walter Schellenberg prepared this book for the Gestapo to be distributed to occupation forces,” explained the auction house, Henry Aldridge and Son, in a statement. “It represented an incredible snapshot into how the Nazis perceived Britain and her Empires and was a blueprint for the occupation of Britain after a proposed invasion by Nazi Germany.”
A translation of the chilling volume was published in 2000 under the title “Invasion 1940.” The document includes information on British Jewish organizations, strategic locations, maps, parliament, private schools, freemasonry and photos of persons of interest, particularly foreign nationals who had fled the Nazis.
RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS UNEARTH REMAINS OF SECRET NAZI ARCTIC BASE
“Informationsheft (Information booklet) G.B 106” was prepared for the Gestapo to be distributed to invasion forces. (Henry Aldridge and Son)
The plan’s chapter on British intelligence is said to have been so accurate that copies captured at the end of the war were retained by British authorities.
“Operation Sealion” was never launched as Nazi Germany shifted its focus to the Eastern Front and its ill-fated invasion of the Soviet Union.
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The plan contains photos of persons of interest, particularly foreign nationals who had fled the Nazis. (Henry Aldridge and Son)
The plan will be auctioned on Sept. 14.
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The universe is assumed to be roughly 13.7 billion years old, but a stunning new study says it could be significantly younger than that — by a couple of billion years.
According to the study, researchers used new calculations that took different approaches to figure out just how old the universe really is.
“We have large uncertainty for how the stars are moving in the galaxy,” the study’s lead author, Inh Jee, of the Max Planck Institute, told the Associated Press. The research has been published in Science.
This image made available by the European Space agency shows galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2012, an improved version of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. A study published Sept. 12, 2019, uses a new technique to come up with a rate that the universe is expanding that is nearly 18 percent higher than the number scientists had been using since the year 2000. (Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Ellis (Caltech), HUDF 2012 Team via AP)
The age of the universe comes from the Hubble Constant (H0), but according to the study’s abstract, different techniques “lead to inconsistent estimates” of the measurement.
“Observations of Type Ia supernovae (SNe) can be used to measure H0, but this requires an external calibrator to convert relative distances to absolute ones,” the abstract reads. “We use the angular diameter distance to strong gravitational lenses as a suitable calibrator, which is only weakly sensitive to cosmological assumptions.”
With the new calculations, the Hubble Constant, which measures the expansion rate of the universe, is now 82.4, which would indicate the universe is approximately 11.4 billion years old. At 13.7 billion years old, the Hubble Constant was 70.
Scientists estimate the age of the universe by using the movement of stars to measure how fast it is expanding. If the universe is expanding faster, that means it got to its current size more quickly and therefore must be relatively younger.
While Jee’s approach does give a starkly different figure for the age of the universe than has been commonly used, it’s not the only approach to give different figures. In the 1990s, there was a simmering astronomical debate over the age of the universe that was thought to have been settled.
In 2013, a team of European scientists looked at leftover radiation from the Big Bang and pronounced the expansion rate a slower 67, while earlier this year Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute used NASA’s super telescope and came up with a number of 74. And another team earlier this year came up with 73.3.
Jee and outside experts had big caveats for her number. She used only two gravitational lenses, which were all that were available, and so her margin of error is so large that it’s possible the universe could be older than calculated, not dramatically younger.
Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who wasn’t part of the study, said it is an interesting and unique way to calculate the universe’s expansion rate, but the large error margin limits its effectiveness until more information can be gathered.
“It is difficult to be certain of your conclusions if you use a ruler that you don’t fully understand,” Loeb said in an email to the AP.
Loeb has gained notoriety in recent memory for suggesting that interstellar object Oumuaua is an extraterrestrial probe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.