In the 21st century, we get a lot of our Earth political news on late night talk shows, and now we can get our space news there as well. Renowned physicist, string theorist and popular TV scientist Michio Kaku has been making the rounds lately talking about the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2021. Like a good scientist, he’s in favor of using new and better technology, but he’s also cautious about how some of his colleagues will use this particular tool for exploring the cosmos. He told The Guardian this week:
"Soon we’ll have the Webb telescope up in orbit and we’ll have thousands of planets to look at, and that’s why I think the chances are quite high that we may make contact with an alien civilization. There are some colleagues of mine that believe we should reach out to them. I think that’s a terrible idea. We all know what happened to Montezuma when he met Cortés in Mexico so many hundreds of years ago.”
For those who only know of Montezuma from the bad joke about gastric problems, Moctezuma II (Montezuma) welcomed the alien known as conquistador Hernán Cortés to the Aztec empire, and both he and the empire died as a result. Montezuma reached out in peace, just as many of our SETI messages say “We come in peace,” and Kaku thinks this is a bad idea too because it implies we’re unarmed and could convince extraterrestrials to “come and rule us.” Or, as he said in 2018, come and “develop” our planet – building their own structures, planting their own plants and installing their own government. Gee, that’s never happened on Earth, has it?
“To be honest, I’ve get emails from people that say: ‘You’re wrong professor, the aliens are already here. They’ve been in the flying saucers, they have been kidnapped.”
Kaku followed up his Guardian interview with an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He anticipated and addressed the blowback from many people who believe UFOs are alien spaceships and Earth is already populated with extraterrestrials, both camouflaged and out in the open, abducting humans but returning them seemingly unharmed. How come they haven't conquistadored us like Cortés?
“I tell them the next time you are kidnapped by an alien flying saucer, for God’s sake, steal something. I don’t care whether it’s a pen or a chip, steal something! Because there is no law against stealing from an extraterrestrial civilization.”
Obviously, Michio Kaku is a scientist who values facts and proofs over speculations. Of course, stealing a writing quill from Cortés wouldn’t have saved Montezuma – he still had hundreds of troops, dreams of gold, superior weapons and infectious diseases. Kaku says he hopes aliens are friendly but let’s let them show it – don’t reveal our cards to them right up front.
Is he right? There are many who believe we’ve already alerted alien civilizations we’re here and not to bright by our industrial pollution and growing numbers of satellites doing nothing but orbiting – at least from their perspective.
And the biggest sign to aliens we’re not to bright and ready for conquest? We get our science knowledge from late night talk shows.