Microsoft men fund search for extraterrestrial intelligence
- News from THE 'X' ZONEMicrosoft men fund search for extraterrestrial intelligence
WebPosted Thu Aug 3 12:58:16 2000
SAN FRANCISCO - Two men behind the software giant Microsoft have pledged millions of dollars towards the construction of what will be the world's most powerful telescope designed to look for intelligent life in space.Paul G. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft Corp., is donating $11.5 million US to the Allen Telescope Array.
Former Microsoft chief Nathan Myhrvold is also giving $1 million US to the project.
An artist's conception of
the Allen Telescope Array
Unlike huge dishes like the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico, the array will consist of 500 to 1,000 small dishes that look like those used for home satellite television. Their signals will be electronically linked to form one picture of space.
The telescope will be big boost for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, a non-profit, private organization devoted to finding alien intelligence. The telescope array will be the group's first own installation devoted exclusively to hunting down signals from other solar systems. In the past, SETI has spent over $4 million US a year buying time on large radio telescopes.
SETI astronomers are currently developing a list of close-by stars that resemble our own where they will begin observation. The new design will enable SETI to examine up to a dozen locations at the same time.
A prototype of the Allen Telescope Array was unveiled in April but the real thing won't be fully operational until 2005. The telescope will be jointly administered by the University of California, Berkeley and built at the university's Hat Creek Observatory.