Although Milner has made his name—and billions of dollars—through investments in Facebook, Alibaba, and many other tech start-ups, his true passion is science, which he has demonstrated through his formation of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. This organization awards the world’s most lavish scientific prizes. Milner’s latest project is part of the Foundation’s new Breakthrough Initiatives division and is called Breakthrough Listen. Providing $100 million in funding over the next decade to top SETI researchers, Breakthrough Listen will allow new state-of-the-art radio and optical surveys to take place using the world’s premiere telescopes, creating the most ambitious and robust SETI program yet performed. The project is set to begin making
Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner Announce $100M Initiative to Seek ET
LONDON — Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner are pushing the search for extraterrestrial life into higher gear. Milner, a tech start-up entrepreneur and philanthropist, is partnering with scientists around the world to search for life among the stars.
The pair said Monday the $100 million “Breakthrough Initiatives” program funded by Milner will harness computer power as never before in a search of the heavens.
“We are intelligent, we are alive, we must know,” said Hawking, who warned of the potential danger of contacting aliens.
In 2010, Hawking said that alien life may not be friendly to humans. He compared their potential arrival to Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which resulted in the deaths and enslavement of many Natives Americans.
The program will involve millions working in tandem by donating spare computing power to a worldwide network.
Milner said it will be the widest search ever and generate data in one day that previously would have taken one year.
Hawking is one of the world’s most eminent scientists. Milner is a Russian-born billionaire who was an early investor in a number of Internet-based companies.
They add, “All data will be open to the public. This will likely constitute the largest amount of scientific data ever made available to the public. The Breakthrough Listen team will use and develop the most powerful software for sifting and searching this flood of data. All software will be open source.” The project is also supported by Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, and Lord Martin Rees
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