Stephen Hawking Announces Largest Space Expedition in History
On July 20th, Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a $100 million dollar space search for extraterrestrial life. At the press conference held in London, Hawking stated, “In an infinite universe, there must be other life…there is no bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer.”
This is in comparison to The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (known as SETI) that began in 1960. SETI sent out and sought out radio signals from neighboring stars. However, funding has been low. Milner’s $100 million dollars will greatly speed up the process with new technology as opposed to SETI’s usual half a million in donations.
Project leader Andrew Siemion calls this “a revolution” and states that they will be able to accomplish in a day what SETI accomplishes in a year.
The man who is backing this project financially, Yuri Milner, has always been fascinated with space. He was born in 1961 and named after Yuri Gagarin, a Russian astronaut. Through his Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Milner created Breakthrough prizes in 2012 that reward excellence in science. Investors such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin from Google back the Breakthrough Award—companies Milner is known for investing in over the years.
Hawking and Milner’s expedition could mean that we discover life on another planet within the next decade. Will we find E.T., or simply smaller organisms on another planet? Will we find intelligent life such as ourselves? Regardless of the findings, Milner is excited, stating, “We might find something we’re not even looking for.”
Around the same time Hawking, Milner, and fellow project leaders made their announcement in London, the NASA’s Kepler telescope found the most similar match to Earth yet.
Jon Jenkins, the head of Kepler data analysis, stated, “In my mind, this is the closest thing we have to another planet like the Earth.”
The new Kepler planet is projected to be about 6 billion years old. Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Jenkins stated on Discovery, “That’s a considerable opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN
As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin.