NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is slated for launch later this year, and the scientific community is looking forward to it. Some scientists are excited about the prospect of traveling back in time to discover how our universe was formed, while others hope this will help us connect the dots between classical and quantum physics.
However, at least one researcher believes the JWST could be a harbinger of bad news. In an interview over the weekend, world-famous physicist Michio Kaku, one of the scientists responsible for string theory, told the Guardian that he doesn’t think humans should contact aliens we find. Here is the relevant excerpt:
Soon we will have the Webb Telescope in orbit and we will have to look at thousands of planets and so I think the chances are pretty high that we can make contact with an alien civilization. There are some of my colleagues who think we should reach 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.
It is interesting that Kaku brings up Montezuma and Cortes as part of the first contact. Legend has it that Montezuma II accidentally ceded the entire Aztec Empire to Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, because of a misunderstanding of the language.
According to historians, Montezuma II said to Cortes that he kept the Aztec throne warm for him, but he meant it in a boastful sarcastic way. Cortes apparently didn’t get the tone, and the rest is history.
It seems like Kaku’s warning is that if we were to find and contact aliens, Earthlings could be the Aztecs and aliens could be the Spanish. We may send a message like “We come in peace” when we discover it and the aliens interpret it to mean “Come rule us”. It could happen.
We could make endless guesses when it comes to discussing what might happen when we discover someone else’s life. Instead, let’s take a moment to set out some key facts about the JWST so we can see how they relate to what we ET-wise might find when it gets to where it’s going:
- It’s 100 times more powerful than Hubble and uses infrared scanning technology to see things farther away and in greater detail
- It will search thousands of potentially habitable worlds for signs of life, something Hubble was not designed to do
- If everything goes according to plan: It will achieve its goal, calibrate its sensors and be fully functional by May 2022
NASA sends the telescope to the second Lagrange point (L2). This is a special place where the telescope can stay in line with the earth as it orbits the sun 1.5 million kilometers from home. The Hubble, on the other hand, hung just 325 kilometers away directly over our planet.
Thanks to this incredible perspective, with the JWST we can see and study the cosmos in new and exciting ways. With the JWST, researchers can investigate the origins of the universe and, with a little luck, find planets in our galaxy that can support life. And that means we could hypothetically discover aliens with it as early as next year.
What would that mean? We have no way of knowing what kind of aliens we might discover. Maybe they’re amoeba-like. Or maybe we can find a young planet where flora and fauna thrive, but the intelligence has not yet developed. And yes, it could even mean that we will find intelligent life. The only thing we can know for sure is that any life we find should be very, very fearful.
Almost every civilization living on earth has either fought against other civilizations or was dominated by one or more who did so. Today the earth is still inhabited by 8 billion people who live under a worldwide policy of mutually assured destruction.
NASA is a government agency of the United States, a country currently waging the longest war in its history. Objectively, almost everything about the state of our world suggests that violence is inevitable when people are involved. If we meet an intelligent species, we will likely go to war.
And the prognosis is even worse for any unintelligent life forms we encounter. Currently, more than 41,000 species on earth are critically endangered. To protect all extraterrestrial animals we encounter from our incessant destruction, we must treat their worlds with far greater awe and respect than our own.
Even so, there is no guarantee that there will be life out there. And even if they do, it could be decades, centuries, or millennia before we go far enough or develop the right technology to find them. But if they do and they are not powerful enough to stop us from doing what we always do, we hope we won’t find them until we learn to be better neighbors for everyone, including ourselves .
Published on April 5, 2021 – 20:32 UTC