Professor Matthew Bailes warns if aliens contact us we should think twice before responding, saying any being from outer space capable of sending out a signal would probably be more intelligent than us — and perhaps harmful.
Bailes will be leading the Australian team as part of the world’s largest hunt for extraterrestrial life. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation project is being financed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to the tune of $100 million and will include some of the greatest minds creating a supercomputer proficient of identifying signs of life in deep space.
The Independent reports: The team working on the mission will use the Parkes radio telescope – one of the largest in the world – to scan the cosmos in what has been defined as bringing a “Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life”.
The enterprise will cover 10 times more area of sky than preceding programmes, according to News24.
Prof Bailes said to the news outlet that sophisticated computers would have to be installed at Parkes – which was the first telescope to receive transmissions displaying Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon in 1969 – to sort through as many as a billion samples a second to try to identify patterns or possibly signals.
“The trouble is to know what sort of signal we are looking for. There is no manual on how to search for aliens. We’ll have to imagine the sort of transmissions an alien race might send.” Prof Bailes said.
The computers, he cautioned, would take a year to build, and the project has five years to run. But he said that the signal – if and when it arrives – would possibly be quite weak after travelling across such vast distances. He said that researchers hope that aliens will send a message human beings would be able to understand – such as prime numbers.
But he warned that we may all be “long dead and buried” before we worked out how to reply – and the aliens got an answer.
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