Science Says Intelligent Life is Out There: Now What?

By Jeff Ayers — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

On a recent episode of Fueled By Death Cast, we talked with theoretical physicist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku about the possibility of intelligent life in the universe. The question used to be "Are Aliens out there?" but now with recent discoveries made in space, it seems more than likely there would be intelligent life in the universe outside of our own.

Thanks to the K2 mission from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope recently cataloging 95 extrasolar planets, the universe seems a little bigger. Last year seven exoplanets were found in the Trappist - 1 system, and we are now learning that some of them might hold more water than Earth.

But when will we find a planet that can support life? Dr. Michio Kaku had this to say:

Michio: "I wouldn't be surprised whether next year or the year after that we find a doppelganger in outer space. That is a planet that has roughly the same size as the planet earth and potentially it has liquid oceans out of which DNA could be formed. Now, right now we have found roughly 20 or so super earths, plants that are, for example, 50%, 100% bigger than the earth. But I think we're getting very close now to finding a twin of the earth in outer space that is the same size of the earth and potentially could have liquid water oceans."

So IS there intelligent life out there in the universe?

M: I think we have a census now of the milky way galaxy that on average every star has a planet going around it, mainly Jupiter size, but about maybe one in 20 of them, who knows for sure." Dr. Kaku said. "But about one in 20 of them, in turn, have Earth-sized planets going around. If you do the math, we're talking about billions. Billions of earth sized planets in our own backyard. So the probability that we could have microbial life and even intelligent life is extremely high just within our own backyard."

Wow. So what happens when we finally make contact with intelligent life?

M: Well, first of all, there are no protocols that you see often in the movies where the joint chiefs of staff get together and tell the public, "Don't panic," or keep everything a secret. There are no such protocols. Okay? Governments have not come together to discuss this. So I think, first of all, we'll probably pick up a radio signal from a nearby planet. The first response will be to decipher the message. The message will be regular, rather than random, indicating that there's an intelligence behind it. Have to use supercomputers to decipher it. Okay? At that point, it's going to leak out. People cannot keep secrets. It'll leak out that we've detected intelligent symbol from outer space.

First, we have to translate it. Second, we have to then figure out the level of technology. Are they vastly superior to us? Or are they just beginning to understand radio, for example? Like our civilization. In other words, are they type one, type two, or type three. We'll have to figure out which type civilization they are. Type one is planetary. They control the weather. They control all planetary forces. Type two is stellar, like Star Trek. They control individual stars. Type three is galactic. They roam the galactic space lanes. So we'll have to understand the level of technology. Third, we'll have to understand whether or not they're potentially hostile or not. Whether they can pose a threat to us. If they are type two or type three, they could probably visit us. In which case, we definitely have to wonder about what happens if we encounter them."



Pretty heavy stuff. Better get another pot of coffee going. To hear the full interview with Dr. Michio Kaku listen to Fueled By Death Cast Episode 63 right here.




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