The Australian scientist who has been handed the task of finding signs of life on other planets has warned that humans should probably think twice before making contact with aliens.
Professor Matthew Bailes warns if aliens contact us we should think twice before replying, saying any creature from outer space capable of sending out a signal would most likely be more intelligent than us — and possibly dangerous.
Bailes will be leading the Australian team as part of the world’s biggest search for extraterrestrial life. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation project is being funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to the tune of $100 million and will involve some of the greatest minds devising a supercomputer capable of detecting signs of life in deep space.
The Independent reports: The team working on the project will use the Parkes radio telescope – one of the largest in the world – to scan the universe in what has been described as bringing a “Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life”.
The initiative will cover 10 times more area of sky than previous programmes, according to News24.
Prof Bailes told the news outlet that sophisticated computers would have to be installed at Parkes – which was the first telescope to receive transmissions showing Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon in 1969 – to sort through as many as a billion samples a second to try to detect patterns or likely signals.
“The difficulty is to know what sort of signal we are looking for,” Prof Bailes said. “There is no manual on how to find aliens. We’ll have to imagine the sort of transmissions an alien race might send.”
The computers, he warned, 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 likely be quite feeble after travelling across such vast distances.
He said that scientists hope that aliens will send a pattern human beings would be able to recognise – 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.