‘You might find aliens’ chancellor tells stargazers
GEORGE Osborne has suggested Jodrell Bank’s groundbreaking new stargazing project might eventually find evidence of aliens.
Unveiling the world’s biggest ever astronomy project, to be based at the Lower Withington observatory, the Chancellor admitted that was ‘pretty unlikely’ - but said it marked a ‘very exciting beginning of a journey’.
Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the international control centre for two new telescopes in South Africa and Australia and will explore the first billion light years’ of space, when the first galaxies and stars were being formed.
Mr Osborne said it would handle 10 times more data than the internet every day, adding that it would most likely focus on how gravity works, including the existence of black holes and dark matter.
He added: “So that’s the hard science. It’s also said, but let’s not get too excited about this, that if it were the case that there were other lifeforms within 50 light years of Jodrell Bank we would pick up their radio transmissions if they were advanced lifeforms.
“But I think that’s pretty unlikely, so I think we’d better make clear to everyone that is not the central project here.”
The SKA telescope, managed from Jodrell Bank, is capable of looking all the way back to the aftermath of the Big Bang, and are expected to get going in 2020, coming fully online in 2025.
Manchester university, the science community and the government fought off stiff competition from Italy to head the project. It will be a huge economic boost Cheshire East.
It is estimated to be worth £1billion in private sector investment and will help to secure an additional 200 jobs on the site.
The news comes days after Cheshire East Council agreed to invest £1m in Jodrell Bank as part of a support package that will focus on connectivity and asset enhancement.
Caroline Simpson, the Council’s executive director for economic growth
for and prosperity, said: “This is a real statement of confidence in scientific research in Britain and also in Cheshire East.
“The Council believes this will lead to further opportunities in the Cheshire and Manchester region and the Council has set out a clear action plan to develop the technology and science corridor in the area. Jodrell Bank plays a key part in this plan.”
●● George Osborne during his visit to Jodrell Bank
●● Mr Osborne chats with Professor Tim O’Brien in the telescope control room