October 11, 2007

ET, New Telescope is Looking for You

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen paid for half of a new telescope facility in California, a $50 million array to find other civilizations in the universe.

The Seattle Times said the telescope is the first major telescope dedicated to finding life in the heavens.

Allen was set to join scientists from SETI -- the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence -- to unveil the Allen Telescope Array this week. The 42 radio dishes are perched on a plateau 300 miles northeast of San Francisco

The facility's first mission is to scan several billion stars across the Milky Way galaxy, followed by a detailed examination of about 1 million stars, the newspaper said. The Times said that was a quantum leap in astronomy: In the 45 years scientists have been looking for aliens out there, only 750 stars have gotten close scrutiny.

Allen became interested in outer space after enjoying Robert Heinlein's science fiction as a child, the Times said.

If this project picks up a signal, they would call me right away, he told the newspaper. I would be astonished ... then I'd be trying feverishly to help decode the message.