Search for Alien Life Nets Historic Cash Infusion

Is the cosmos filled with chatty alien civilizations, or is the Earth a lonely spark of life in a sterile universe? The Russian billionaire Yuri Milner wants to know, and has committed to spending at least $100 million to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence or SETI. Efforts to listen for interstellar messages date back to the 1960s, but funding has often proved as elusive as the aliens themselves. Announced today at a press conference in London, Milner’s Breakthrough Listen initiative provides 10 years of funding for what promises to be the most exhaustive and far-seeing SETI program in history when it begins observations in 2016. Milner said in an interview with Scientific American, "I am fully committed to this project. If we don’t find anything in ten years, then we’ll just have to extend it for another ten years, and then for another twenty, if necessary."