Stephen Hawking to Launch Biggest Ever Hunt for Aliens
Physicist Stephen Hawking and tech billionaire Yuri Milner to invest $100 million in search for life beyond Earth.
Physicist Stephen Hawking and tech billionaire Yuri Milner launches an ambitious $100 million program in order to search for extraterrestrial life.
Combining unprecedented computing capacity with the world’s most powerful telescopes, Hawking and the Russian-born Milner seek to intensify the so far fruitless search for life beyond the planet Earth.
It is a coordinated plan to solve one of mankind’s enduring riddles: Are we alone?
Hawking, who speaks using a computer-generated voice due to the effects of motor neuron disease, said, “We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”
Milner said the power of Silicon Valley technology and innovation would be used.
The scope of our search will be unprecedented: a million nearby stars, the galactic centre, the entire plane of the Milky Way and 100 nearby galaxies.
Organisers say the “Breakthrough Initiatives” project, also endorsed by other prominent British scientists, is the biggest ever scientific search for alien life. It includes a “listening” program — the effort to analyze vast amounts of radio signals in search of signs of life — and a “messaging” program that will include $1 million in prizes for digital messages that best represent the planet Earth.
The messages will not be sent, however, in part because some scientists including Hawking fear messages sent into space could possibly spur aggressive actions by alien races.
It will be supported by the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia in the United States and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
The project will be 50 times more sensitive than earlier searches, and will cover 10 times more of the sky, organizers say.
Based on new information about the number of other worlds where life could have taken hold it is “quite likely” humans are not alone, he said.
There is no bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth.
— Stephen Hawking
(With inputs from AP)
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