Breakthrough Initiatives

Breakthrough Initiatives is funded and founded by Yuri Milner. The Initiative is formed to search for extraterrestrial intelligence within at least 10 years. This initiative was published on July 20, 2015 at London’s Royal Society. The initiative was created by physicist Stephen Hawking, Russian tycoon Yuri Milner and many others. It was formed to search the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence in the Universe and transmit a message out into space. The announcement included an open letter which was co-signed by various scientists including Stephan Hawking, giving out their support for the program. During the public launch Stephan Hawking said, “In an infinite Universe, there must be other life. There is no bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer.”

Two Segments

The program has two segments. Breakthrough Listen (BL) will work towards finding 1,000,000 stars for artificial ratio or laser signals. The project does not limit itself to the Milky Way rather it focuses on gathering information by observing beyond our galaxy for signals of extraterrestrial life in 100 neighboring galaxies. Breakthrough Listen’s is 10 years long program with $100 million funding which began in July 2015. It is noted as the most comprehensive search for alien communications. The program will use up to thousands of hours each year on two essential radio telescopes, the Green Bank Observatory in West-Virginia and the Parkes Observatory in Australia. In the previous years, the telescopes were only used for 24-36 hours each year to search for alien-life. In addition, the Automated Planet Finder of Lick observatory will search for optical signals produced from laser transmissions. In order to process the massive amount of data, the experience of SETI and SETI@home will be used. The founder of SETI Frank Drake is one of the scientists of the projects.

The other project or division is called Breakthrough Message (BM), which comprises of an effort to produce a message “representative of humanity and planet Earth”.  It was launched with an open competition with a US $ 1 million prize pool, to create a digital message that can be transmitted from Earth to an extraterrestrial world. The submissions are to be in digital format, and must include a representation of Earth and humanity. The program oath, “no to transmit any message until there has been a global debate at high levels of science and politics on the risks and rewards of contacting advanced civilization”.

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