Physicist Michio Kaku: Intelligent Alien Life Will Contact Humans This Century
Aliens are out there, and we're going to hear from them at some point this century.
At least, that's the opinion of Dr. Michio Kaku, a scientist and futurist who, in promoting his new book, The Future of Humanity, took part in a Reddit AMA last week.
Scientists such as those at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute have been monitoring space for any kind of alien radio waves for decades now, but nothing's appeared thus far.
When asked about the possibility of making contact with aliens, Kaku suggested that, sooner or later, this monitoring work will pay off, although it won't instantly lead to an open exchange of communications between us and our new neighbors:
Considering the vast distances that radio signals would have to travel, Kaku's predictions make sense.
While many scientists are growing concerned that we haven't already heard from aliens, it's worth noting that the sheer size of the known universe means that it takes billions of years for signals to reach from one side of space to the other, so if aliens are far enough away, we probably haven't yet mastered the right technology to actually be able to pick up their weak radio transmissions against the maelstrom of white noise from other stars and supernovae that would cloud out their signals.
Even for a relatively close alien civilization, sending messages back and forth would take decades or centuries. Thus, if we ever do find proof of aliens, we'll all probably be long gone before our species can make contact with their future descendants.
As eager as Kaku might be for us to find radio signals, that also depends on aliens using the same communication methods that we're using. The chances of this are rare, though; we can't assume that any alien species would necessarily evolve the same senses that we possess—in fact, they might communicate on spectrums and wavelengths that we can't perceive.
Considering the amount of dark matter that exists in the universe, we need to remember that we can't actually currently comprehend the vast majority of information that's floating around in space. We'd have to get very lucky to be able to find an alien species that not only is close enough to us that we'd be able to clearly spot their communications, but that also broadcast on the kind of radio channels that we're expecting to use to spot them.
Of course, all of this would be made a lot easier if the aliens simply dropped down onto the White House lawn, as Kaku suggests. If that happens, though, nobody's going to be having a great time. Popular culture has trained us to expect the worst from this kind of power play, and one way or the other, we'd probably be at war by the end of the day.