Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner Are Looking for Aliens

Carina Nebula via The Hubble Telescope

Stephen Hawking announced on Monday that he and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner will be searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life. The project is called Breakthrough Listen and uses telescopes at the Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and the Lick Observatory’s optical telescope in San Jose, California to scan the universe for signals between 1 GHz and 10 GHz.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a.k.a. SETI, lost its funding from the government in 1993 and currently subsists on its waning donations from private organizations. SETI is only able to use one telescope for 24-36 hours a year, which is only a small fraction compared to what Breakthrough Listen will have. “Now we’ll have thousands of hours per year on the best instruments,” said Andrew Siemion, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. Siemion is one of the co-founders for Breakthrough Listen. “It’s difficult to overstate how big this is. It’s a revolution.”

Even with the $100 million of funding received from Milner, the leaders of Breakthrough Listen are reluctant to say whether or not we will find life on other exoplanets. “It’s quite likely that we won’t find anything,” Milner confesses. Although it is likely that SETI and Breakthrough Listen will find more exoplanets that could inhabit life, the real question is whether or not intelligent life exists on them. It would be difficult to accomplish such a feat in 10 years time, even with the immense amount of resources Milner and Hawking have pulled together. On top of that, Hawking and his team must come up with another way to scan the universe for these exoplanets instead of using SETI’s method of moving from one star to the next for any transmissions. By only concentrating on one star at a time, a signal could be missed, and our chance at connecting with other intelligent lifeforms could be gone.

However, Breakthrough Listen is just the beginning of the real search for other life forms. With the massive amount of funding backed by Milner, it gives the leaders of Breakthrough Listen a real chance to search the skies. Whether or not the project finds intelligent life, what Hawking, Milner, and Breakthrough Listen’s goal is bigger than that and could bring a broader, universal interest back into space.

Via: Breakthrough Listen
Source: Stephen Hawking

Beme: How Casey Neistat Wants to Fix Social Media and Kill Selfies


Casey Neistat, the internet-beloved YouTuber and adventurer, wants to reshape social media with his new app Beme. The new app for iOS was reported on TNW today and shared by Neistat on his Facebook with the caption, “Cat’s outta the bag now!”

In 3.5 minute YouTube video pitch (uploaded on July 16), Neistat talks about what his Beme team has worked on the for the past year. Neistat’s app is one many people likely can relate to. Its idea stems from a perspective that rallies against the problem of social media curtailing, general self-consciousness, and fake-ness involved in most social media platforms. And most of all, it’s entirely against people staring at their screens instead of living their lives.

June Oven is the Smart Appliance of the Future


$1495 is a lot of money for a small oven. But perhaps not for one that cooks food to perfection automatically, without a lick of human baking error, and is controlled remotely from your iPad on the couch. This brand new magic appliance might actually be comparable to that PowerBook you spent your tax return on last spring. In fact, June, the “intelligent oven,” which will ship next spring, was designed by former Apple engineers and Path iOS web developers.

Ellen Pao Resigns as CEO of Reddit


In the wake of controversy regarding Reddit’s firing of AMA manager Victoria Taylor, the CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, has officially resigned from her post atop the social website this afternoon. Pao was the interim CEO for the past several years after Yishan Wong. After various controversial moves including banning subreddits violating Reddit sub rules, she has become a continually lambasted figure by the community and moderators of the website’s many social groups.

Washington DC’s Building Museum has a Giant Ball Pit Open to the Public


There’s great news for children (and those who still are children at heart) this summer. A giant 10,000 sq. ft. ball pit dubbed “The BEACH” has been installed inside the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.’s Judiciary Square. The best part? No sunscreen is required for this plastic-filled ocean, and it’s open to the public for all your ball-diving needs.


The BEACH ball pit takes up the entire main floor of the Museum and took an entire day of unboxing and building to complete. Construction materials also included wood panels, scaffolding, and mesh all in bright white. Thanks to the building’s many sunlit windows and the addition of a mirrored wall, the entire exhibit lights up into an infinite translucent ocean of balls. There are also beach chairs and umbrellas on a 50 ft. faux-shoreline for sunbathing safely indoors.

For a fuller visual, NewsHour did a fun interview within “the ocean” with National Building Museum staff in the video below.

There are an estimated 700,000 to 1,000,000 balls in the pit, and people of all ages have the chance to enjoy The BEACH for all its worth until Sept. 7 for $5-16 per admission. Active duty military personnel can also attend free until Labor Day.

The BEACH was designed by the NYC firm Snarkitecture, and it follows up the Building Museum’s last interactive exhibit known as the “The BIG Maze,” designed by Bjarke Ingels Group. There are rules for The BEACH, however. For instance, throwing balls is not encouraged. For all those details and more, head over to the National Building Museum’s website.

Via: PBS NewHour
Source: National Building Museum