Stephen Hawking helps the launching of the ambitious private project called “Breakthrough Listen”, which aims to find extraterrestrial life, with billionaire Yuri Milner who will allocate 100 million dollars over the next ten years.
The British physicist said the project seeks to capture signals of extraterrestrial intelligence. “In an infinite universe, there must be other cases of life.” he told at the Royal Society (British Academy of Sciences), in London, during the launch of the project. “Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps intelligent life might 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 better question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer, to search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough initiatives are making that commitment. We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.” he said.
Meanwhile, Yuri Milner mentioned that they will make use of “Silicon Valley technology”, in the United States, as the largest technology companies around the world are located there. “Current technology gives us a real chance to answer one of humanity’s biggest questions: Are we alone?”
This project counts with Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia (USA), the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and the optical telescope at Lick Observatory in California, which will explore about a million stars in the Milky Way and one hundred nearby galaxies. The work area will be about ten times greater than the previous investigations and will detect at least 5 times more radio frequencies so far, a hundred times faster. There will also be used telescopes to look for laser signs and electromagnetic spectra.
With regard to the debated idea of ??sending messages into space, Hawking said: “A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”