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Stephen Hawking, Milner launch $100m hunt for alien life

world Updated: Jul 20, 2015 23:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Stephen Hawking

Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Yuri Milner arrives on the red carpet during the second annual Breakthrough Prize Awards at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California (REUTERS Photo)

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has joined Russian billionaire Yuri Milner to launch a major new effort to listen for aliens in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Hawking and Milner, along with other renowned scientists, announced the unprecedented $100 million global Breakthrough Initiatives to reinvigorate the search for life in the universe at the Royal Society in London on Monday.

The first of two initiatives , Breakthrough Listen, will be the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth.

The second, Breakthrough Message, will fund an international competition to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth, which might one day be sent to other civilisations.

“The scope of our search will be unprecedented — a million nearby stars, the galactic center the entire plane of the Milky Way and 100 nearby galaxies,” Milner said.

“Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours aware of what they mean,” Hawking said. “Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that here on our rock, the universe discovered its existence?’

The project will have significant access to two of the world’s most powerful telescopes — 100-meter Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in Australia.

The 10 years initiative will cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. It will scan at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum — and 100 times faster.