Stephen Hawking Endorses $100M Plan To Search For Life In Outer Space

A $100 million worldwide initiative has been launched to find intelligent life in space.

Called Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year endeavor will cover 10 times more sky than previous searches and comb 100 galaxies for extraterrestrial radio signals, Daily Mail reports.

Funding will come exclusively from Russia's Yuri Milner, according to The Guardian, who made billions investing in Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

Milner announced the project in London earlier today, where he also held a conference call with one of the several respected scientists backing Breakthrough Listen, Dr. Stephen Hawking.

Here's Hawking discussing the motivation for the project:

Beginning January 2016, the 328-foot Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the 210-foot Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia will search for radio signals while California's Lick Observatory will look for optical laser transmissions that might have been sent from extraterrestrials.

Billions of cosmic radio channels will be scanned by engineers in addition to the nine million people who volunteer their personal computers for the SETI@home project, according to Recode, which searches for communication coming from unnatural sources.

In a statement, Breakthrough Listen reportedly said,

If a civilization based around one of the 1,000 nearest stars is transmitting to us with the power of a common aircraft radar, the Breakthrough Listen telescopes can detect it. If they are transmitting from the center of the Milky Way, with any more than a dozen times the output of the interplanetary radars we use to probe our own solar system, Breakthrough Listen telescopes could detect them.

Milner additionally announced another project called Breakthrough Message, a competition to create digital messages that could give informative recounts about the planet and mankind.

The messages won't be sent into space, but the prize money apparently amounts to $1 million.

Milner previously distributed millions to scientists to draw attention to their causes.

Citations: Professor Stephen Hawking backs 100 million search for extraterrestrial signals (Daily Mail), Yuri Milner Bets 100M That We Are Not Alone in the Universe (Recode), 100m radio wave project to scan far regions for alien life (The Guardian)