The man financing physicist Stephen Hawking’s push to find alien life is a two-time college dropout named after the first human being to travel into space, according to ABC News (Australia).
He is Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, and he made his fortune as an internet entrepreneur and is currently estimated to be sitting on a fortune of some $US 3.4 billion.
The 53-year-old dropped out of a physics PhD at Moscow State University, and later an MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance.
He explains his interest in science by saying he believes he was a physicist in a past life.
Mr. Milner and Professor Hawking have announced a $135 million project to scan the heavens for signs of alien life, and “Milner has offered $100 million of his own fortune,” writes Mercurynews.com.
The Breakthrough Listen initiative will be the most intensive scientific search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligent life yet undertaken.
Milner was joined by world-renowned physicist Hawking to announce the project Monday at the Royal Society of London.
According to The San Jose Mercury News, the money will go to researchers at U.C. Berkeley’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center, which started in 1961 but so far hasn’t had much luck finding an unambiguous indication of intelligent life on another planet.