July 20, 2015

Stephen Hawking launches big hunt for aliens with project worth USD 100 million

Stephen Hawking, the eminent British physicist on Monday launched a whopping USD 100-million project to search for aliens.
The Breakthrough Initiatives programme, funded by US-based billionaire and Silicon Valley technology investor and physicist Yuri Milner, was launched at the Royal Society in London and characterised as the "biggest scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth."
The project plans to cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programmes and scan five times more of the radio spectrum, 100 times faster.
"We believe life arose spontaneously on earth. So in an infinite universe there must be other occurrences of life. Somewhere in the cosmos perhaps intelligent life may be watching these lives of ours, aware of what they mean," the 73-year-old wheelchair-bound scientist said.
"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 bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth. We are alive, we are intelligent, we must know," the author of 'A Brief History of Time' noted.
Lord Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and University of Cambridge and member of the advisory committee of the initiative, said, "The search for extra-terrestrial life is the most exciting quest in 21st- century science. The Breakthrough Initiatives aim to put it on the same level as the other ultimate scientific questions."
The programme kicks off with 'Breakthrough Listen' to track signals with access to two of the world's most powerful telescopes - Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, the US, and Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. It will include a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth and beyond the Milky Way, it will listen for messages from the 100 closest galaxies.
"With 'Breakthrough Listen', we are committed to bringing the Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life in the Universe. Our approach to data will be open and taking advantage of the problem-solving power of social networks," explained Milner.
The public will be invited to participate in efforts to find a signal from another world through the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence or SETI@home project.
A linked 'Breakthrough Message' programme will fund an international competition to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth, which might one day be sent to other civilisations.
The pool of the worldwide prize will total USD 1,000,000 and its details will be unveiled in the coming months.

1 comment:

  1. I wish them luck, and I hope any positive results they
    find are greeted with more open minds than those that ignored Dr.
    Gilbert Levin's results indicating microbial life during the Viking
    missions to Mars in 1976. However, along with deliberate radio
    transmissions, one might also listen for the harmonic "noise" of power
    systems. Deliberate radio signals may be megawatts in power, but even on
    our own Earth the radio leakage into space is in decline as mass
    communication switches to cable systems. But all intelligent
    technological societies will use electricity, Like us, they will
    discover that AC power is most efficient at long line distances, and
    that the range of alternating current frequencies where the efficiency
    is greatest is rather narrow. That means that all alien technological
    civilizations will be using alternating current power distribution
    running between 10 and 200 Hz. Radiative power is more efficient at
    higher frequencies, so looking for upper band harmonics for signals in
    those ranges would be advisable. But consider the scale of power. as I
    said before, deliberate radio signals may be in the megawatts, but the
    power grid of an advanced planet is leaking terrawatts of radio noise
    into the universe!