“We believe 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 lives of ours, aware of what they mean,” Hawking said at news conference.
Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and University of Cambridge and member of the advisory committee of the initiative, said, “The search for extra-terrestrial life is the most exciting quest in 21st- century science. The Breakthrough Initiatives aim to put it on the same level as the other ultimate scientific questions.”
The "Breakthrough Listen" project plans to cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programmes and scan five times more of the radio spectrum, 100 times faster. It include a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth and beyond the Milky Way and also listen for messages from the 100 closest galaxies.
The programme will use two of the world’s most powerful telescopes – Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, US and Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia to track signals.
The public will be invited to participate in efforts to find a signal from another world through the SETI project. A ‘Breakthrough Message’ programme will be fund to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth, which might one day be sent to other civilisations.
The project was launched at the Royal Society in London and characterised as the biggest scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth.