LONDON – World famous physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner announced their new project of injecting $100 million into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.
This is a new effort to answer the question of whether there is life elsewhere in space.
The first of the two initiatives announced is Breakthrough Listen, will be the most powerful search ever taken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. The project will survey the 1 million stars in the Milky Way closest to Earth, as well as the 100 closest galaxies.
Both initiatives, Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message are funded by Silicon Valley technology investor Yuri Milner, who was trained as a physicist.
The £64m ($100m) initiative was launched by the Breakthrough Initiatives group at the Royal Society in London.
Speaking at the launch, Prof Hawking said: “Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours, aware of what they mean.
“Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos – unseen beacons, announcing that here, on one rock, the Universe discovered its existence. Either way, there is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer – to search for life beyond Earth.
“We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”
It will involve access to two of the world’s most powerful telescopes. – the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
Among those involved in the search is Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal.
According to Milner and the scientists joining him, the project will allow scientists to collect as much data on The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in a day as they now do in a year. The data will be made available to the public, so anyone can help search for the radio signals that could be used to track down alien civilizations.
Meanwhile, others at Breakthrough Listen will be working to improve our own signaling techniques, brainstorming the best way to send a message out into the cosmos.
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