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Hollywood funds search for aliens

india Updated: Aug 11, 2011 13:26 IST
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Astronomers will now resume their hunt for extraterrestrial life, thanks to backers, including Hollywood star Jodie Foster, whose funding helped raise 200,000 dollars for the project.

Scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute use 42 giant radio dishes in northern California to look for distant transmissions.

The dishes, known as the Allen Telescope Array, were mothballed in April when funding from the institute’s partner, the University of California Berkeley, dried up.

But following an appeal more than 2,000 people have contributed to get the project running again.

In the 1997 science fiction film “Contact,” based on a Carl Sagan novel, Foster played a character inspired by SETI co-founder Dr Jill Tarter.

“In Carl Sagan’s book/movie Contact a radio signal from a distant star system ends humanity’s cosmic isolation and changes our world,” the Telegraph quoted the actress as saying in a note accompanying her contribution.

“The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact, but only if it is actively searching the skies,” she added.

Another contributor, astronaut Bill Anders who flew around the moon on Apollo 8 in 1968, said: “It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.”

Tom Pierson, chief executive officer of SETI, said the search would resume in September.