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Hawking helps launch major new hunt for ET

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SETI
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« on: July 24, 2015, 02:22:23 am »

Hawking helps launch major new hunt for ET
Posted on Monday, 20 July, 2015



Is there is anyone out there attempting to communicate with us ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Hajor
A new $100 million endeavor has been launched to look for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Professor Stephen Hawking joined a number of other high profile scientists and astronomers in London today to announce the launch of two new initiatives that together represent one of the largest and most significant searches for intelligent alien life ever undertaken.

The 'Breakthrough Listen' initiative will involve a ten-year survey of the closest one million stars within our own galaxy as well as the 100 closest galaxies to the Milky Way.

The accompanying 'Breakthrough Message' initiative will at the same time fund an international competition to determine what message the human race should send out in to the cosmos.

"We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth, so in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life," said Hawking. "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."

Both initiatives have been funded by Silicon Valley technology investor Yuri Milner who was inspired to become a physicist by Frank Drake - a pioneer in the hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

The team behind the 'Breakthrough Listen' initiative believe that if there is an alien civilization within the 1,000 nearest stars transmitting with nothing more than the power of a common aircraft radar then we should we be able to pick it up using the radio telescopes we have on Earth.

It should also be possible to detect any signal coming from as far away as the center of the galaxy if it is transmitting with twelve times the power of one of our existing interplanetary radars.

"It's a huge ****, of course," said UK Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees.

"No one would count on success, but the payoff would be so colossal on recognizing that there was life elsewhere that this investment is hugely worthwhile."

http://www.space.com/29990-stephen-hawking-intelligent-alien-life-initiative.html
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2015, 02:30:15 am »


Stephen Hawking Helps Launch Massive Search for E.T.
by Charles Q. Choi, Space.com Contributor   |   July 20, 2015 12:13pm ET



The announcement of the Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message initiatives was made today (July 20) in London. Making the announcement were (left to right) Internet investor Yuri Milner, physicist Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and astrophysicist Mart
[Pin It] The announcement of the Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message initiatives was made today (July 20) in London. Making the announcement were (left to right) Internet investor Yuri Milner, physicist Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees, SETI research pioneer Frank Drake, co-founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios Ann Druyan, and UC Berkeley astronomy professor Geoff Marcy.
Credit: Breakthrough Initatives
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A new $100 million, 10-year search for intelligent life in the universe was announced today (July 20) by famed scientist Stephen Hawking and other researchers.

The first of the two initiatives announced today, Breakthrough Listen, will be the most powerful search ever taken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. The project will survey the 1 million stars in the Milky Way closest to Earth, as well as the 100 closest galaxies.

"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." [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life]

The second initiative announced today, Breakthrough Message, will fund an international competition to determine the content of messages sent from humanity to alien civilizations. The pool of prizes rewarding the best messages will total $1 million, and the competition is open to everybody. Although Breakthrough Message is not committed to sending messages, "it's a great way to develop a degree of awareness of what it is to be human, to be self-aware, to be alive," Ann Druyan, creative director of the Interstellar Message on NASA Voyager and widow of famed astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, said at the news conference.

Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message are funded by Silicon Valley technology investor Yuri Milner, who was trained as a physicist.

"In 1961, John F. Kennedy announced his dream of landing a man on the moon by the end of this decade," Milner said at the news conference. "Forty-six years ago, man made the first steps on the moon. That same year, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. It was an important year for humanity; we stepped out into the solar system. And it was an important year for me; I was born. My parents were so inspired by Gagarin's voyage that they named me Yuri. Later, I was told by my mother, who is right here in this room, that she wanted me to be inspired by what he did."
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Searching for new civilizations

Milner explained that the work of Frank Drake — who helped to pioneer the first modern search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) — inspired him to become a physicist. At the news conference, Drake noted the key challenge in finding government funding for SETI: "We cannot tell you how much it will take to succeed until we succeed," said Drake, who will lead discussions on Breakthrough Message's technical aspects. "We simply have to explore in the dark and hope people like Yuri Milner will keep us going for however long it takes for us to succeed."

Breakthrough Listen will harness two of the world's largest telescopes — the 100-meter (330 feet) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the 64-meter (210 feet) Parkes Telescope in Australia — covering 10 times more of the sky than previous SETI programs, scanning at least five times more of the radio spectrum and doing so 100 times faster.

"We will be examining something like 10 billion radio channels simultaneously," planet-hunting pioneer Geoffrey Marcy, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, said at the news conference. "We're listening to a cosmic piano, and every time we listen with the telescopes, we'll be listening not to 88 keys, but 10 billion keys."

If a civilization based around one of the 1,000 nearest stars is transmitting at Earth with the power of a common aircraft radar, or if they are transmitting from the center of the Milky Way with more than a dozen times the output of the interplanetary radars that scientists on Earth use to probe the solar system, these radio telescopes can detect it.

"It's a huge ****, of course," added Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom. "No one would count on success, but the payoff would be so colossal on recognizing that there was life elsewhere that this investment is hugely worthwhile."
Listening for alien lasers

The project will also enlist the aid of the Automated Planet Finder Telescope at Lick Observatory in California to search for laser transmissions, using techniques 1,000 times more effective than previous efforts to detect interstellar laser signals, according to a statement from the researchers. From a "nearby" star 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers) away, it could detect a 100-watt laser emitting the same amount of energy as a normal household light bulb,the statement added.

"If the Milky Way actually has other intelligent species sending their spacecraft across the galaxy to settle around other stars on other planets, they might communicate using lasers," Marcy said. "There could be a galactic Internet not borne by copper wires, not borne by fiber optics, but carried by laser beams crisscrossing the galaxy."

All of the data from Breakthrough Listen will be available to the public. The initiative will collect vast amounts of data — 10GB per second — the largest amount of scientific data ever made available to the public.

"We will be able to generate as much data in one day that would have taken previous SETI searches one year," Milner said.

The plan is for the Breakthrough Listen team to develop powerful open-source software to search through this flood of data. Scientists and members of the public can develop their own applications to analyze this data as well. "The hardware and the software used in the Breakthrough project will be compatible with other telescopes around the world, so they too can search for intelligent life," Milner said.
Crowdsourcing SETI

Breakthrough Listen will also take advantage of crowdsourcing by joining and supporting SETI@home, the distributed computing project in which 9 million volunteers around the world donate spare computing power to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. "Collectively, it's one of the world's largest supercomputers," Milner said.

Breakthrough Prize Foundation chairman Pete Worden noted they are discussing collaborations with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., which runs its SETI project using the Allen Telescope Array bankrolled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. "We hope to begin conversations with many others over the years to mobilize the world's instruments for SETI research," Worden said.

Marcy added that the Square Kilometer Array getting built in Australia and South Africa could lead to a 100-fold improvement in SETI research in the coming decade. If Breakthrough Listen does not discover extraterrestrial intelligence a decade from now, "as long as we collectively believe this is an endeavor worth funding, we should just keep funding," Milner said. "And I think if we do find something, I'm sure there will be a dramatic increase in funding in this project."

"This announcement is great news for the astronomy community," said theoretical astrophysicist Abraham Loeb, chairman of the astronomy department at Harvard University. "Radio telescopes are in a bad situation in terms of federal funding."

Drake noted that, while the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is exciting, years of detecting nothing "starts to get boring," and languishing without results for all that time "can be very bad for careers." Drake noted that scientists involved in the initiative will also be able to conduct other research, and Marcy noted that the radio telescopes could detect as-yet-unknown astronomical phenomena.

It remains unknown, however, what form any extraterrestrial intelligence might take, if it exists at all. "There may be organic life out there, or maybe machines created by long-dead civilizations," said Rees, who is chairing the Breakthrough Listen committee. "But any signals, even if they are difficult to decode, would tell us that the concepts of logic and physics are not limited to the hardware in human skulls, and will transform our view of the universe."

And making contact with aliens might be a very bad idea, Hawking warned. "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."

However, Rees did not share Hawking's concerns, and suggested "they may know we're here already."

"We may get to a period in our future where we outgrow our evolutionary baggage and evolve to become less violent and shortsighted," added Druyan, who will lead discussions on Breakthrough Message's creative and cultural aspects. "My hope is that extraterrestrial civilizations are not only more technologically proficient than we are, but more aware of the rarity and preciousness of life in the cosmos."

Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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http://www.space.com/29990-stephen-hawking-intelligent-alien-life-initiative.html
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freetoroam
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2015, 03:00:09 am »

The radio signal we are sending are spreading out in every direction, thus only a very weak signal will be recieved in another solar system. If we target particular solar systems with directional transmissions, a much stronger signals can be sent, but of course the problem is that right now we don't know what solar systems to target, and there is a limit as to how many solar systems we can transmit to at any given time. In short we can send out an omnidirectional signal that everyone can recieve, but it will be very weak at the recieving end, or we can send directional signals to other.
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The Creeper
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2015, 03:02:54 am »

METI signals are always focussed to an interstellar target, like a cluster or explanet, Radio/TV signals are not. METI signals always contain a binary-coded message that contains informations about us and our location in the universe/solar system and they are designed to be (hopefully) understood by ET and it ismore likely that such message can be easier decoded than a TV commercial about panty liners. And, METI transmitting frequencies are different to the TV/Radio frequencies to the benefit of operating distance.
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Astra
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2015, 03:04:28 am »

The first sentence is a question. If here on Earth we have someone suggesting we don't send messages, then it is perfectly valid to ask whether the same situation might occur with other species. The second sentence is a logical consequence of that question. If every species follows the suggestions of "Stephen Hawking" then no one will communicate. What is your problem with the logic in that? I am using this argument to point out that if every species follows what "Stephen Hawking" says, then no one will communicate with anyone.
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2015, 03:06:21 am »

We could target powerful short pulsed signals - they used to be called Q-packets - in many directions.
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Sphere of Influence
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2015, 03:07:48 am »

As said before, Hawking just offered his opinion, in the great scheme of things...who cares what he thinks? He has no sway over other astrophysicists...or foreign space agencies Perhaps he's writing a book about that? And makes such statements as primers for the book? Thats where he earns most money .
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Eclipse of the Sun
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2015, 03:09:32 am »

There does seem to be a tendency to think that just because someone is a famous scientist, they are right about everything they say. No one is right about everything (except me ), no matter how intelligent they might be.
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Onward Christian Soldiers
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2015, 03:11:27 am »

I don't give a fig for what he says. He is no more qualified to know how we should proceed with SETI or METI than you or I. He is an astrophysicist, and by all accounts most of his black hole radiation theories are currently being shown to be spurious. But good luck to him. He has had a terribly difficult life.
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2015, 03:12:59 am »

This is the problem with the media - and similar discussions have been held here on UM before. Just because someone is famous in a particular branch of science, the media ask his or her opinion on every branch of science. That's like asking a car mechanic his (or her) opinion on carpentry.
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Zalmoxis
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2015, 03:15:08 am »

 I guessed that was more or less it (METI vs TV signals), but as Sagan showed in Contact, depending on how close they were, ET would be able to pick up TV/radio.
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Helmut
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2015, 03:16:39 am »

The equation is all wrong, Light Speed is only just a "A" speed. We were made to Break the Law`s !
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