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Hawking helps launch major new hunt for ET


Posted on Monday, 20 July, 2015 | Comment icon 214 comments

Is there is anyone out there attempting to communicate with us ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Hajor
A new $100 million endeavor has been launched to look for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Professor Stephen Hawking joined a number of other high profile scientists and astronomers in London today to announce the launch of two new initiatives that together represent one of the largest and most significant searches for intelligent alien life ever undertaken.

The 'Breakthrough Listen' initiative will involve a ten-year survey of the closest one million stars within our own galaxy as well as the 100 closest galaxies to the Milky Way.

The accompanying 'Breakthrough Message' initiative will at the same time fund an international competition to determine what message the human race should send out in to the cosmos.

"We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth, so in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life," said Hawking. "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."

Both initiatives have been funded by Silicon Valley technology investor Yuri Milner who was inspired to become a physicist by Frank Drake - a pioneer in the hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

The team behind the 'Breakthrough Listen' initiative believe that if there is an alien civilization within the 1,000 nearest stars transmitting with nothing more than the power of a common aircraft radar then we should we be able to pick it up using the radio telescopes we have on Earth.

It should also be possible to detect any signal coming from as far away as the center of the galaxy if it is transmitting with twelve times the power of one of our existing interplanetary radars.

"It's a huge gamble, of course," said UK Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees.

"No one would count on success, but the payoff would be so colossal on recognizing that there was life elsewhere that this investment is hugely worthwhile."

Source: Space.com | Comments (214)

Tags: Extraterrestrial, Life, SETI

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #205 Posted by toast on 24 July, 2015, 19:48
Ok, the base for the article and the question itself is the Fermi Paradox that was always paradox to me as it totally ignore the laws of economy. We, humans, could live at the bottom of the ocean at a depth of 10.000 meters but we dont as it would be too expensive and energy absorbing to built the habitats and to keep them running. We could also live on the top of the highest mountains but we dont for the very same reasons. An alien race that would prepare for an interstellar colonization would have to manage that the conditions on the target planets would not be the same as on the home planet... [More]
Comment icon #206 Posted by Occams Razor on 25 July, 2015, 2:20
I think the professor is most likely correct... life is probably common in the galaxy, and the best way to detect it would be spectral analysis of the atmospheres of the planets. However, out technology isn't good enough to allow spectral analysis of the atmospheres of planets that are the sort of distances away that we're talking about. So... do we sit on our hands and wait for that technology to mature, or do we do the best we can with the technology available to us. I think it's reasonable to assume a technologically advanced civilization will go through a radio phase as part of it's techno... [More]
Comment icon #207 Posted by TonopahRick on 25 July, 2015, 7:18
If they want to spend the money to look I for one am all for it.
Comment icon #208 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 26 July, 2015, 15:45
Now there is this.. Then there be articles saying some countries been in touch with ETs for years..
Comment icon #209 Posted by Paranomali on 19 August, 2015, 12:01
I remember watching into the universe with Stephen Hawking, and his belief was that we shouldn't be looking for E.Ts. Now he's on board a $100 million dollar endevour to search for them. I hope his words don't come back to bite him.
Comment icon #210 Posted by bison on 19 August, 2015, 16:05
I remember watching into the universe with Stephen Hawking, and his belief was that we shouldn't be looking for E.Ts. Now he's on board a $100 million dollar endevour to search for them. I hope his words don't come back to bite him. I believe Dr. Hawking warned against contacting extraterrestrial intelligences, not merely listening for their signals. The new project includes no plans for contact. He apparently makes this distinction.
Comment icon #211 Posted by Paranomali on 1 September, 2015, 7:08
Aye fair enough. Although honestly i believe one thing will lead to another. If they hear what they are trying to hear it would be full steam ahead to try to make contact
Comment icon #212 Posted by Midyin on 1 September, 2015, 15:34
I thought a few years back Hawking had said we should avoid aliens. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8642558.stm Make your mind up, Stevie! he doesn't want us to talk to them, but he's probably as curious as the rest of the world on weather or not there is any intelegint life out there..
Comment icon #213 Posted by Derek Willis on 1 September, 2015, 16:21
he doesn't want us to talk to them, but he's probably as curious as the rest of the world on weather or not there is any intelegint life out there.. This has been discussed earlier in this thread and in others. Personally, I don't believe just because Stephen Hawking is an astrophysicist means his opinion on this is more valid than anyone else's.
Comment icon #214 Posted by badeskov on 1 September, 2015, 23:33
This has been discussed earlier in this thread and in others. Personally, I don't believe just because Stephen Hawking is an astrophysicist means his opinion on this is more valid than anyone else's. Since we have no idea of ET and their psychology, you and I and everyone else are just as qualified as Stephen Hawking in this respect. It is, in other words, pure guess work based on a data set of one, that data set being us. Cheers, Badeskov


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