Breakthrough Listen: astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in search of extraterrestrial

“In an infinite universe, there must be evidence of life. Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life look. ” By this phrase astrophysicist Stephen Hawking summed up the spirit of a new program to observe extraterrestrial life.

It is from the Royal Society Science Academy in London, Monday 20 July that American 73-year detailed project outline “Breakthrough Listen”. It will be economically supported for 10 years by the Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner at 100 million. It is presented as the most ambitious ever undertaken in the field.

“A huge gamble”

To carry out this research, the project will use the means more powerful telescopes to try to flush out the manifestation of an intelligent activity, such as a radio frequency or a laser beam. “Listen Breakthrough takes the search for intelligent life in the universe to a completely new level,” assured Yuri Milner, claiming that the project would collect more data in one day than previous research in one year.

According to experts, the work area will be ten times the previous research and Listen Breakthrough will detect a hundred times faster, at least five times more radio frequencies. Despite the resources committed, the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life, however, is “a huge gamble,” tempered one of the main leaders of the project, Professor Martin Rees of British astronomy. “But the reward would be so colossal that the game is worth it, even if the chances of success are low,” he has said.

At this stage, it is however not yet scheduled send message into space, a topic that is debated among scientists. “A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us,” said Stephen Hawking. “They would be far more powerful and could not give more importance to us that bacteria do for us.” A scenario worthy of the worst science fiction movies.

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