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MS co-founder coughs up £8.6 million for alien hunt

Paul Allen buys telescopes for SETI

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Paul Allen has given £8.6 million to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. The money will be used to build the most powerful array of telescopes thus far which will be named The Allen Telescope Array. His business partner, Nathan Myhrvold will fund the development phase.

Allen said that the project was an opportunity to search for intelligent life beyond the solar system while doing conventional radio astronomy. "This new telescope will be the world's most powerful instrument for this search," he said. "And I am pleased to support its work."

Scientific director Jill Tarter said that the two men had understood the importance of the project. The money would allow her to search for signals from nearby stars, she said. Myhrvold said that unless projects at SETI continued to get support the chances of discovering extraterrestrial life were essentially zero.

NASA originally founded SETI but funding now comes entirely from charitable donations and support from academic institutions. ®

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