ET Seekers Win Big Boost

Fringe movement attracts big donors and wide interest as its goes mainstream
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2009 5:58 PM CST

(Newser) – The truth is out there, and now there’s funding to find it: Everyone from Bill Gates to Cameron Diaz is embracing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), a movement transitioning from X-Files territory to the mainstream, the Wall Street Journal says. One astronomer left last week's prestigious TED conference with over $1 million to help her "empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."

SETI, which receives no federal dollars, has been marginalized despite its role in energizing unmanned space exploration. But as scientists continue making new celestial discoveries, SETI is gaining ground—and providing hope that, if alien signals are detected, civilizations can overcome technological and environmental challenges. “It is a proof of existence, that it is possible to survive,” the astronomer explains.