Venture capitalist investor slash Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has got into the race to find alien life, pledging $100m (£64.3) of his own money to help answer the question of whether we are alone in the cosmos.
In a philanthropic(ish) effort, the internet entrepreneur announced through a live webcast at The Royal Society in London that he will donate the money over the next 10 years to “discover whether intelligent life exists beyond Earth”.
Professor Steven Hawkin, also on the panel at the webcast, said:
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.
In such a massive place as the cosmos, we only have to look at ourselves to prove that extremely unlikely things can and do happen all the time.
The billionaire investor, who was an early investor in Facebook and Twitter, as well as Groupon and Spotify, will use his money to rent three telescopes and point them at areas in the universe that could support life.
His cheque will also support a team of researchers, who will be collecting data from outer space that will be shared, along with their software, allowing amateurs to help.
While Milner has an eye for investments and helped many startups, he is passionate about science, having studied theoretical physics at Moscow State University and worked at the Lebedev Physical Institute.