Hawking and Milner announce they are putting $100 million into Breakthrough Listen, a project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Hawking:
We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth. So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life.
Milner, who is funding the project, says scientists will be able to collect as much data on SETI in a day as they now do in a year, and all data will be made public. The project will also work on improving the best way to send a message out into space. Milner:
I’ve been thinking about this since I was a child, reading Carl Sagan’s book Intelligent Life in the Universe, The year that I was born, 1961, that was a big year in science — the first man was launched into space [Yuri Gagarin], and I was named for him. And Kennedy made his famous speech about putting man on the moon…I don’t have high expectations, but the search itself will teach us quite a bit. We could find something we’re not even looking for…Irrespective of what the answer is, it’s a powerful answer. At any given time, we should apply the best technology and use the best instruments available to search for that answer.