Russian billionaire and venture capitalist Yuri Milner may be famous for being an early backer of Facebook and Twitter and later backing Spotify and Airbnb.
But he’s also known for his Breakthrough Initiatives, a scientific program to investigate the questions of life in the Universe, and for putting up $200 million in funding to revive the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). This includes a project called Breakthrough Starshot, which has created tiny spaceships the size of a micro-memory chip. Each ship is equipped with sensors and a laser to transmit data back to Earth, a camera, and is powered by light.
On Tuesday he showed off these smallest spaceships on earth.
He also shared his own personal opinion on why we haven’t found any indisputable evidence of alien life, including, for instance, a visit by an actual alien.
First: he jokingly rejected Elon Musk’s theory that we’re all really just living in a simulation, like the movie “The Matrix.”
“The favourite way to explain this in Silicon Valley is that we’re living in a simulation. It’s a perfect explanation,” he joked. “Somebody is playing a game and we are part of this game. It’s a pretty dangerous assumption because then there’s the question, when should they turn off the game? The answer is: when we find out it is a simulation. So I prefer not to focus on it.”
But then he offered an interestingly well-reasoned explanation.
“It’s very hard to send something more than this chip at those high speeds at those huge distances. If you send a macro object [the size of a sci-fi starship] and if that object collides with a small speck of dust, and there are plenty out there, there will be an nuclear-scale explosion,” he said.
In other words, it’s very difficult to get a spaceship could here from zillions of light years away, given how fast that size of a vehicle would have to travel.
On the other hand, tiny alien space ships could be all around us and we don’t even know it. “I think it’s very possible these things are flying all around us and we have no way of knowing. We are not tracking such small things.”