Stephen Hawking, Russian Billionaire Launch New Alien-Hunting Effort

Stephen Hawking, Russian Billionaire Launch New Alien-Hunting Effort

A new venture to scan the skies for alien life just got Stephen Hawking's backing.

At the Royal Society in London today, the famed physicist and Russian tech billionaire Yuri Milner announced the launch of a $100-million initiative to search for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth, BBC News reported. The initiative -- part of the Breakthrough Initiatives group -- is named Breakthrough Listen.

"With Breakthrough Listen, we’re committed to bringing the Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life in the universe," Milner said in a written statement. "Our approach to data will be open and taking advantage of the problem-solving power of social networks."

The 10-year project involves detecting and analyzing several billion radio frequencies with sensitive telescopes and advanced computing technologies, Reuters reported. Scientists say the fact that humans use radio signals means other intelligent life may use them as well.

Other scientists endorsed the initiative, including Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research in Mountain View, Calif.

"This is by far the most ambitious step forward for SETI research since the cancellation of the NASA SETI program in 1993," Shostak told The Huffington Post in an email. "It will have the benefit of financial stability and long-term effort -- precisely what's been absent for the past two decades. My hope is that this foundation will also wish to include the efforts of the SETI Institute."

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.

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