The Spielberg Touch Launches Real-Life Search for ‘E.T.s’

Associated Press

With the touch of a lever, “E. T.” director Steven Spielberg launched a search for real extraterrestrials Sunday, turning on a giant antenna that astronomers hope will detect radio signals from outer space.

“This marks the beginning of a really powerful search that has a decent chance of finding something,” said Paul Horowitz, a Harvard University professor who designed the 84-foot communications dish, part of the most powerful radio-scanning system ever used to hunt for aliens.

The dish, capable of scanning 8.4 million radio channels, marks an escalation of such efforts by the Planetary Society, which scans the skies for signs of life from its Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard.

The new $100,000 antenna was funded by a grant from Spielberg.