Search for ET: Prof Stephen Hawking launches hunt for alien life

Famed scientist and Russian billionaire announce $100m initiative

New Project Hopes to Discover Extraterrestrial Messages
A new venture to scan the skies for alien life has now got the backing of Professor Stephen Hawking.

At the Royal Society in London on Monday, the famed physicist and Russian tech billionaire Yuri Milner announced the launch of a $100m (£64m) initiative to search for signs of extra-terrestrial life beyond Earth.

The decade-long effort to find intelligent life beyond our planet is named Breakthrough Listen, reports the Huffington Post.

The project involves detecting and analysing several billion radio frequencies with sensitive telescopes and advanced computing technologies. Scientists say the fact that humans use radio signals means other intelligent life may use them as well.

Speaking at the launch, Prof Hawking said: "Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may 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 bigger question. It's time to commit to finding the answer - to search for life beyond Earth.

"We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know."

Findings will be shared

Milner said the search will be transparent and will rely on open-source software so that its findings can be shared with space enthusiasts around the world.

"With Breakthrough Listen, we're committed to bringing the Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life in the universe," Milner said.

"Our approach to data will be open and taking advantage of the problem-solving power of social networks."