Jewish tech billionaire gives $100M to Stephen Hawking’s search for aliens

Ben Sales

Yuri Milner, left, and Stephen Hawking attending a press conference on the Breakthrough Life in the Universe Initiatives, July 20, 2015, in London, England. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Yuri Milner, left, and Stephen Hawking attending a press conference on the Breakthrough Life in the Universe Initiatives, July 20, 2015, in London, England. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A Jewish-Russian tech billionaire is teaming up with renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to launch an unprecedented search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

Yuri Milner, an investor in tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Spotify, is dedicating $100 million to the 10-year project, called the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, according to the French news agency AFP. The initiative will use powerful telescopes to scan the stars, reaching farther than previous methods employing radio signals or lasers.

The project will be 50 times more sensitive than previous attempts and scan 10 times more area, according to AFP. Milner said the project will take the search for aliens to “a completely new level.”

But Hawking warned that dangers come along with the project: If a civilization is far more developed than the Earth’s, it may view humans as unevolved and of no value.

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“A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead,” Hawking said, according to AFP. “If so, they will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

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