DER SPIEGEL: Professor Loeb, do you have a favorite alien?
Loeb: To be honest, I don’t like science fiction personally. I have a problem when the action in a movie violates the laws of physics. In those cases, I cannot enjoy the experience aesthetically.
DER SPIEGEL: If you don’t like aliens, why are you exploring the question of intelligent extraterrestrial life?
Loeb: Because it’s one of the really big questions. I have always been interested, even as a young kid, in thinking about the big picture. And the most fundamental of all questions is: Are we alone?
DER SPIEGEL: Why do you consider the question to be so fundamental?
Loeb: If at some point we encounter other intelligent beings, it would radically change our perspective of our importance in the big scheme of things. In addition, extraterrestrial intelligences could enormously increase our knowledge. Learning from them would improve our understanding of the world. It could be a shortcut — just as if somebody from the Middle Ages were to get a glimpse of our world in the 21st century.
DER SPIEGEL: Are the prospects of encountering aliens better today than they were in earlier times?