Billionaire philanthropist Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global and one of the world’s most influential technology investors, has been fascinated by space exploration since he was a boy. Milner’s childhood fascination with the possibilities of space travel has led him to invest some of his wealth in the possibilities of space travel.
Milner provides substantial funding for Breakthrough Listen, seeking to detect signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. His scientists and engineers are cooperating with NASA to accomplish Earth’s first private deep-space exploration mission, a journey to detect life, if it exists, on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. With his wife Julia Milner, Yuri Milner founded and funds the Breakthrough Prize to reward discovery in the fields of math, physics, and the life sciences.
Writing on Twitter, Yuri Milner has expressed hope for the discoveries of the new James Webb Space Telescope, including insights into life beyond our planet.
The James Webb Telescope Is a Time Machine, of Sorts
If the Hubbard Telescope can be said to have enabled humans to view “teenage” galaxies, the James Webb Telescope can be said to offer a view of a galactic nursery. With the James Webb telescope, we can see light emitted by objects just 300 million years after the Big Bang. The James Webb Telescope has already identified exoplanets, including a rocky world with water orbiting in a life-friendly zone around its star.
The James Webb Telescope Is Currently Humanity’s Most Powerful Tool for Space Exploration
Successor to the Hubble Telescope, the James Webb is 100 times more powerful. The new telescope can peer farther away from the Earth and farther back in time than any other device humans have ever constructed.
The James Webb Telescope Is a Technological Coup
The James Webb Telescope won’t just force astronomers to rewrite their textbooks. Just to build the telescope, Northrop Grumman had to invent new technology to create a precision mirror. This technology is already changing eye surgery. The engineers who designed the telescope have made fundamental discoveries in the technology of deployable, finding new ways to fold and unfold precision instruments. This technology is also applicable to laparoscopic surgery.
The James Webb Telescope Will Help Us Chart Our Solar System
The James Webb does not just scan deep space. It is also scheduled to examine asteroids in our solar system, some of which have their own moons. As the history of our own solar system’s asteroid belt is better understood, we come closer to understanding our origins and place in the universe.
The James Webb Telescope May Help Us Find the Next Earth
The Hubble Telescope was not designed to look for exoplanets. The James Webb Telescope is. As science comes to understand the nature of very old objects in space, we may learn where to look for planets like our own.
But the real significance of the James Webb Telescope is not just the new technologies that were required to create it and the new worlds it may reveal. Tools of exploration like the new space telescope, Yuri Milner believes, may be a unifying force for all humankind.
As Milner writes in his “Eureka Manifesto”:
“Any organization that is serious about doing something significant has a mission. But human civilization, as a whole, has nothing resembling a shared mission. In the long term, that means we cannot thrive — or probably even survive. But what could such a mission be? People, nations, and cultures vary wildly. Where on Earth do we look for a common goal? Beyond Earth.”
For Milner, this common goal can be looking for life beyond the life in our world. Yuri Milner argues that we should look beyond Earth: in the universal story we are part of — and whose next chapters we can choose to write.