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A NYT article this year that discusses aliens as a possible explanation for an astronomical phenomenon?


Astronomers sometimes write scientific papers that draw on extraterrestrial intelligence as an agent of explanation for celestial phenomena that are either novel or not immediately understandable. Moreover, when such hypotheses are invoked, they often gain considerable media focus. In contrast, similarly effective peer-reviewed appeals to the Deus Ex Machina device are not frequently seen in terrestrial fields such as meteorology or solid-state physics.

Recent examples that have risen to some prominence in the public eye include (i) an article suggesting that the star KIC 8462852 is an outstanding SETI target because its light curve is consistent with a swarm of megastructures, (ii) the proposal that fast radio bursts are associated with extragalactic light sails, and (iii) the use of the Green Bank Radio Telescope to assess whether the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua is (as memorably phrased by researcher Seth Shostak) a "rock or a rocket".

Given the clear public interest in alien-themed astronomical hypotheses, one can speculate whether further work of this nature will be deemed newsworthy by the New York Times. As a companion to this question which touches on The Times' coverage of U.F.O.s within Earth's Hill Sphere, we ask:

During the span from February through December of 2018, will the New York Times publish a news story in which intelligent extraterrestrial agency is discussed as a possible explanation for an astronomical phenomenon? To resolve as positive, the story must concern astronomical observations of an object outside of the Earth-enveloping Earth-Sun L1 Jacobi equipotential, and must run in the main, "A" section of the print-version paper.

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