Alien Life Search Takes On Fermi Paradox With $100 Million In Russian Oligarch Money

The next ten years will be SETI's best opportunity ever to find alien life. Reuters

The search for extraterrestrial alien intelligence has been so unsuccessful that theorists have dreamed up elaborate and terrifying answers to the Fermi Paradox, which ponders why we haven’t seen evidence for alien life despite the statistical case for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Is a Great Filter keeping intelligence species from spreading through the Galaxy? Is life extraordinary or mediocre? Will we ever find the reason for the Great Silence? With a major injection of cash from Russian billionaire Yuri Milner the next few years will be our best opportunity yet to track down those quiet alien beings and end humanity’s despairing, madness-inducing loneliness.

Alien Life Search: Breakthrough Listen May Be Our Last, Best Hope

The new SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program, called Breakthrough Listen, will spend $100 million over 10 years to scan billions of radio frequencies across vast swathes of the sky. According to Milner, “Today we are launching the most comprehensive search program ever. Just in one day Breakthrough Listen will collect more data than a year of any previous search.”


Milner was joined at the launch of his new alien life search project by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who said this about Breakthrough Listen:

“I am here today because I believe the Breakthrough Initiatives are critically important. To understand the universe you must know about atoms. About the forces that bind them, the contours of space and time. The birth and death of stars, the dance of galaxies, the secrets of black holes. But that is not enough. These ideas cannot explain everything. They can explain the light of stars, but not the lights that shine from Planet Earth. To understand these lights you must know about life, about minds.

We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth so in an infinite universe there must be other occurrences of life. 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 our rock, the universe discovered its existence? Either way, there is no bigger question.

It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough Initiatives are making that commitment. We are life, we are intelligent, we must know.”


Should the new search for alien life prove successful, Milner will initiate Breakthrough Message, an X-Prize style project to engineer the best possible method of communicating with the aliens.

Frank Drake on First Contact

Professor Frank Drake, SETI founding father and creator of the alien-life predicting Drake Equation, also offered his support. "We will have the most powerful search, and enduring search, that has every been launched," he said. "This is a very great milestone."

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