Where do UFOs come from

Editorial - The »Aliens« are coming!

»'Oumuamua« - the name arouses associations. It sounds like exotic islands and journeys into the distance. In fact, the term comes from Hawaiian and means "scout". This alludes to a special property of 1I / 'Oumuamua, the full name of the object. Because he is the first interstellar visitor that astronomers have been able to detect in our solar system: Robert Weryk from the University of Hawaii achieved this sensation in 2017.

The rock was something of a harbinger. In the meantime, science knows a second traveler between the solar systems: The amateur astronomer Gennady Borissov discovered the body 2I / Borissow named after him in 2019. This differs in its nature and appearance clearly from 'Oumuamua, whose shape inspired some researchers to the wildest speculations - up to extraterrestrial spaceships.

This article is included in Spectrum of Science 1/2021

In our cover story (from p. 12) Amaya Moro-Martín and David Jewitt write about the "Visitors from the Stars" in a very factual, but still captivating way about these bodies. In my opinion, this is actually one of the most spectacular and interesting discoveries that astronomers have made in our solar system of late - and that in a field of research that is not exactly poor in exciting new discoveries.

In the meantime, both objects have left our solar system again. The case of Gennady Borisov shows that hobby observers can make important discoveries: he tracked down "his" find with a telescope he built himself. Maybe somebody else from the large community of enthusiastic amateur astronomers will soon succeed in doing something similar.

How strongly personal interests could revolutionize science is also shown in our article "Wipfel als Windfabrik" (p. 44) on forests that generate winds, which in turn drive rain clouds across entire continents and provide urgently needed rainfall elsewhere. The Russian scientist Anastassia Makarieva came up with the idea for this thesis during her extensive camping holidays in the middle of the taiga. If she is correct in her assumption, there is another reason why we should stop cutting down the world's great virgin forests. Otherwise the consequences for many agricultural "bread baskets" on earth could be catastrophic.

Thoughtful greetings
Daniel Lingenhöhl