At a news conference on Monday, legendary physicist Stephen Hawking announced plans to launch Breakthrough Listen, a landmark project committed to finding intelligent life in the universe.
Costing $100million, Breakthrough Listen will initially run for 10 years. Its main target is advanced life, as telescopes are set to comb over a million stars to actively seek out radio transmission signals and satellite beams. The equipment is 50 times more sensitive that previous attempts, which could shed some light on exactly how noisy it is in space.
Stephen Hawking has partnered with Russian tech billionaire Yuri Milner, and together they will endeavor to discover one of life’s biggest mysteries. “It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth,” Stephen Hawking explained at the London conference. “We are intelligent, we are alive, we must know.”
Throughout the last several years, NASA have discovered numerous exoplanets but made no major breakthroughs. Exoplanets are defined as having an environment similar to that of Earth: a rocky surface and likelihood of running water due to being an optimal distance from the sun. Both elements are considered crucial for supporting life.
There is little doubt that Breakthrough Listen is by far the largest and most sophisticated operation in our history. Deemed by “huge gamble” by Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, the payoff would never the less be “colossal.” NASA chiefs recently stated that we could find evidence of alien life in the next decade. Breakthrough Listen will edge us that little bit closer.
By Trudie Carter