Stephen Hawking wants to find alien life, and the famed physicist is teaming up with a tech billionaire to launch a $100 million effort to do it.
Hawking announced this week that he is partnering with tech mogul Yuri Milner to boost the search for extraterrestrial life, creating the most intensive program ever to look outside of Earth.
“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 during a press conference at the Royal Society in London (via the Associated Press).
The search, led by Stephen Hawking, will be the biggest undertaking to find alien life ever, scientists say. It will include analyzing vast amounts of radio signals and boosting the ability to send messages into space.
The messages won’t actually be beamed into space, however. A number of scientists, that includes Stephen Hawking, are afraid that alien life could misinterpret the message as one of aggression.
Many astronomers have raised concerns about the effect that a search for alien life could have on humans. Royal astronomer Lord Rees predicted (via the Mirror) that once humans explore deep space, they will begin a migration away from Earth, and likely become a new species.
“There has been just a thin sliver of time when organic beings have existed and billions of years after machines will take over, so they will be the future. I would predict that in the next 50 years or so all of the bodies in the solar system will have been mapped and probed by machine and some people will follow.
By the end of the century there will be some people living away from the Earth. We will wish them good luck in adapting their progeny who will need genetic adaptations. That will be the start of the post-human era because they will evolve to be a new species.”
The search for alien life, headed up by Stephen Hawking, will be funded for the next 10 years, though many astronomers believe it will take much longer to discover life.
Hawking said the results will be important either way.
“If a search of this sophistication finds no proof, that is an interesting result,” he said. “It will not prove that we are alone but it will narrow the possibilities and it is likely to produce data that is fascinating in its own right.”
But given the number of planets with conditions that would sustain life, Stephen Hawking said the search for alien life is “quite likely” to conclude that humans are not the only intelligent life in the universe.
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