The big question that many astronomers ask is, "Is there any other life besides us out there in the universe?"
Although almost anyone will tell you yes because the universe is so vast and there's absolutely no way we could be the only planet with the proper circumstances for life, many others will argue that if there were any advanced alien species out there, they would have contacted us by now.
But who says that aliens are going to be more advanced at all? - Even the slightest hint of bacteria, primitive life, or water would be enough to excite scientists that are dying to know whether there are other planets out there that sustain life.
World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is among the many that wants to learn more and continue exploring the universe for life. Hawking has announced that he will support a $100 million effort for searching for life in the universe funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner.
"We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth, so in an infinite universe there must be other occurrences of life," Hawking explains. "Mankind has a deep need to learn, to explore, to know. It is important for us to know if we are alone in the dark. We are intelligent, we are alive, we must know."
The new initiative that is being called ‘Breakthrough Listen' will involve using some of the largest radio telescopes known to mankind over a 10-year period of time to listen for forms of radio signals in our universe that might be getting transmitted by extraterrestrial life.
"It is sure to bear fruit," Hawking continued. "Experimental astronomy is always worthwhile. If a search of this scale and sophistication finds no evidence of intelligence out there, that is a very interesting result."
This will reportedly be the first time that SETI will have had the significant funding necessary to perform a hardcore search since the 1990s, as CBC points out.
Digital processing equipment will need to be built to handle the large amounts of data that will be picked up by the radio telescope equipment, and the entire project will be open source so that the public can stay updated in real time.
One thing is for sure: Milner and Hawking are determined to find life out there, and it's possible that this decade-long experiment could turn up some results.