Am I living in the same galaxy as Stephen Hawking?
“On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they’re calling Breakthrough Listen.” ~ BBC News
“We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth,” Hawking said at Monday’s news conference, “So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life.”
Just check in with the CIA, Mr. Hawking—they allegedly have some pictures to show you—although I’m not sure how good they are at sharing.
Yuri Milner, who is known for his investments in Facebook and Alibaba, will be footing the entire bill.
In the official project video, Mr. Hawking and a team of scientists explain how the project “Breakthrough Initiatives” can be supported by citizen science and social media to spread the message around the globe. The targeted area of the search will be the Milky Way and one million stars and galaxies.
Mr. Hawking explains that our need to know—our curiosity—needs sating.
A further, dynamic video created by the project explores the concept of an intelligent civilization questioning their belief that the world they inhabit is the center of the Universe:
It’s a brilliant way to hook our imaginations and curiosity about the age old question of “are we alone?” in the Universe.
I’m fascinated by the role of social media in this arena—how we, the people, will be non-too surreptitiously used to spread the news of scientific discoveries. Science and social media icons are teaming up in this interesting venture.
Mr. Milner’s Breakthrough Prize Foundation is a Silicon Valley funded group that currently gives a prize of $3 million per laureate as a scientific award for breakthrough discoveries. The prize is funded by investors that include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sergey Brin.
Of course, the search for aliens is not a new one. We’ve always looked to the stars for answers—it’s only natural that we would wonder if we had company in the heavens.
In the alternative scientific world, the existence of the pyramids, crop circles and unexplainable disappearances have always precipitated questions about alien life.
Many are convinced of it. Some have alleged proof. Organizations such as SETI have been funding their own research since 1960, or relying on support from universities and private organizations.
Scientist Frank Drake (who sought out radio signals from neighboring stars) of The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) will be one of the great minds joining Breakthrough Listen.
Mr. Milner and his group say that the funding for the new project will allow scientists to collect as much data in a day as SETI now collects in a year. Better yet, the data will be made available to the public. So you or I, or anyone, can help search for radio signals which will be used to track down alien civilizations!
My own theory about this is—that while we look for someone who resembles our own visage, living on a rock resembling our own planet—we should also consider the possibility that extra-terrestrial life could very well exist on planets that seem uninhabitable to us. Consider the possibility that their “bodies” are of a variant frequency from ours, so they would seem “invisible” to our perception, but could be very well be entirely capable of living in an atmosphere that would surely kill us humans.
I wonder how the world feels about this new project?
While a king funded Christopher Columbus to chart new continents and civilizations, who is funding the feeding of the civilizations at hand?
I am not saying that we shouldn’t embark on this new journey—I am simply asking that we are as generous in finding ways to help our own, as we are to entertaining new guests.
The future stands undiscovered—as does our capability for embracing new knowledge.
Source: The Washington Post.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: WikiMedia Commons