Stephen Hawking To Help Launch $100 Million Search For Aliens

Life here on Earth can be really depressing when we hear about the constant war and conflict, vapid entertainment and latest stupid thing that presidential “candidate” Donald Trump said. That’s why it takes someone like the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to put things in perspective and give us some awe inspiring hope.

Our universe is vast and within it scientists agree that there is a very high probability that not only life, but intelligent life arose elsewhere in the cosmos.  In an effort to finally answer one of mankind’s biggest questions, “are we  alone,” Hawking and billionaire investor Yuri Milner have launched a pair of initiatives called Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message. Yuri is investing 100 million dollars over a ten year period to both listen for possible signs of intelligent alien life in the galaxy and also send a message out to possible alien civilizations. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, then read what Hawking had to say about the projects;

“We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth, so in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life,” Hawking said at the Royal Society in London, where the initiative was announced. “Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps intelligent life might be watching these lights of ours, aware of what they mean. Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that, here on one rock, the universe discovered its existence? Either way, there is no better question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer, to search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough initiatives are making that commitment. We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”

Breakthrough Listen will survey the 1 million stars in the Milky Way closest to Earth, as well as the 100 closest galaxies. You might be thinking that this is like trying to find a needle in a cosmic haystack. The scientists behind the project claim that they will be able to detect laser transmissions of a 100 watt laser near a star 25 trillion miles away. In addition to searching through 10 billion traditional radio channels, laser transmissions are- a form of communication they theorize alien civilizations may use to communicate. They will be using two of the world’s biggest telescopes for the project which will be able to cover five times more of the radio spectrum than previous efforts such as the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) programs in the past.

The Green Bank Telescope that may help us phone ET.

In addition Breakthrough Message will have a contest giving out a million dollars in prizes in an attempt to craft the best possible message sent from humanity to the aliens. What could possibly go wrong? While supporting this project, Hawking in the past has warned against humanity contacting aliens;

We don’t know much about aliens, but we know about humans,” he said. “If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced. A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

That would be a pretty big whoops-a-daisy.

Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney