Monday, July 20, 2015

(what if) we are not alone


Today's headlines are bursting with announcements of Yuri Milner's $100 million gift in search of alien life. Professor Hawking (pictured above) accompanied Mr. Milner when he made the announcement.

Let's suppose this philanthropic grant is effective. The scientists find extraterrestrial intelligent life.  Does the fact that the search was philanthropically-funded matter?

Does Mr. Milner get first dibs on meeting our new neighbors?
Do the UC scientists get to negotiate international(galactic) diplomatic ties?
Do all the citizen scientists who've been donating their computing power to @SETI at home get first dibs on space travel vouchers to the exoplanets?
Are there naming rights at stake?

To their credit, the funders and scientists are making all of the data from the Breakthrough Listen project open and available to any person interested. Which is right-on from the perspective of humans, but assumes that "aliens" don't mind having their conversations shared with everyone on our planet. 

(I don't know why this struck me. Just because.)

Good luck to the astronomers, engineers, and home scientists.

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