Radio Waves and Snowflakes

In a 1980 television show, popular astronomer Carl Sagan said, “All of the radio waves from space ever studied equal less than the power of a single snowflake hitting the ground.”

That wasn’t quite true then, but it was close. Today, with many more radio telescopes and many more years of collecting astronomical radio waves, the total power of all the waves studied from space is still much less than the energy your body used while you read this post.

Astronomer Carl Sagan, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Bill Gates and Money

One of the wealthiest man in the world is the Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, who, it is estimated, has over one hundred billion dollars. Bill started by writing versions of the programming language BASIC for home computers. If he distributed his wealth among all Americans, we’d each get over $400. If Bill saw a $100 bill on the floor, it would not be worth his time to pick it up. Better to stay focused on business because Bill makes $523 per second.


Michio Kaku Quotes, Facts and Oddities

Quotes

One day I went up to my mom and I said, ‘Mom, can I have permission to build a 2.3-million electron-volt atom smasher – a betatron – in the garage?’ And my mom stared at me, and she said, ‘Sure. Why not? And don’t forget to take out the garbage.’


Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself.


Growing new organs of the body as they wear out, extending the human lifespan? What’s not to like?


I’m not a science fiction writer, I’m a physicist.


It should also be pointed out that some of the strains of smart mice were exceptionally timid compared to normal mice. Some suspect that, if your memory becomes too great, you also remember all the failures and hurts as well, perhaps making you hesitant. So there is also a potential downside to remembering too much.


In the future, I can imagine that we will genetically modify ourselves using the genes that have doubled our life span since we were chimpanzees.


As Sir William Osler once said, – The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow.


Already from your own cells scientists can grow skin, cartilage, noses, blood vessels, bladders and windpipes. In the future, scientists will grow more complex organs, like livers and kidneys. The phrase ‘organ failure’ will disappear.


Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon. Video games, which consume enormous amounts of computer power to simulate 3-D situations, use more computer power than mainframe computers of the previous decade. The Sony PlayStation of today, which costs $300, has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars.


By 2100, our destiny is to become like the gods we once worshipped and feared. But our tools will not be magic wands and potions but the science of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and most of all, the quantum theory.


Time travel and teleportation will have to wait. It may take centuries to master these technologies. But within the coming decades, we will understand dark matter, perhaps test string theory, find planets which can harbor life, and maybe have Brain 2.0, i.e. our consciousness on a disk which will survive even after we die.


Some people seek meaning in life through personal gain, through personal relationship, or through personal experiences. However, it seems to me that being blessed with the intellect to divine the ultimate secrets of nature gives meaning enough to life.


When I get bored, or get stuck on an equation, I like to go ice skating, but it makes you forget your problem. Then you can tackle the problem with a fresh new insight. Einstein liked to play the violin to relax. Every physicist likes to have a past time. Mine is ice skating.


A force field is basically an invisible shield. You push a button and all of a sudden a bubble forms around you which is impenetrable. It can stop bullets, it can stop ray gun blasts and we realized force fields are actually a little bit difficult to create.


It’s humbling to realise that the developmental gulf between a miniscule ant colony and our modern human civilisation is only a tiny fraction of the distance between a Type 0 and a Type III civilisation –  a factor of 100 billion billion, in fact. Yet we have such a highly regarded view of ourselves, we believe a Type III civilisation would find us irresistible and would rush to make contact with us. The truth is, however, they may be as interested in communicating with humans as we are keen to communicate with ants.


I like to engage the public because when I was in high school, I had all these questions about anti-matter, higher dimensions and time travel. Every time I went to the library, every time I asked people these questions, I would get some strange looks. Nobody could answer any of these questions.


I vowed to myself that when I grew up and became a theoretical physicist, in addition to doing research, I would write books that I would have liked to have read as a child. So whenever I write, I imagine myself, as a youth, reading my books, being thrilled by the incredible advances being made in physics and science.


In the 1950s, we had all these B-grade science-fiction movies. The point was to scare the public and get them to buy popcorn. No attempt was made to create movies that were somewhat inherent to the truth.


In some sense, gravity does not exist; what moves the planets and the stars is the distortion of space and time.


The real bottleneck is software. Creating software can be done only the old-fashioned way. A human -sitting quietly in a chair with a pencil, paper and laptop- is going to have to write the codes… One can mass-produce hardware and increase it’s power by piling on more and more chips, but you cannot mass-produce the brain.


The Pentagon has been looking into the possibility of developing “smart dust,” dust-sized particles that have tiny sensors inside that can be sprayed over a battlefield to give commanders real-time information. In the future it is conceivable that ‘smart dust’ might be sent to the nearby stars.


It is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. In fact, some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it is that it is unquestionably correct.


Originally, the burden of proof was on physicists to prove that time travel was possible. Now the burden of proof is on physicists to prove there must be a law forbidding time travel.


Remember the movie ‘The Matrix,’ where virtual information popped up to help inform physical day-to-day reality? Such things won’t always be the stuff of Hollywood. If the Internet is accessible via contact lenses, biographies will appear next to the faces of the people we talk to, and we will see subtitles if they speak a foreign language.


Sooner or later, we will face a catastrophic threat from space. Of all the possible threats, only a gigantic asteroid hit can destroy the entire planet. If we prepare now, we better our odds of survival. The dinosaurs never knew what hit them.


The energy necessary to create a wormhole or to wrap time into nuts is incredible. It’s not for us. It’s maybe for our descendants who have mastered the energy of this technology. So if one day, somebody knocks on your door and claims to be your great great great great granddaughter, don’t slam the door.


I have nothing against investment banking, but it’s like massaging money rather than creating money. If you’re in physics, you create inventions, you create lasers, you create transistors, computers, GPS.


I got a four year scholarship to Harvard, and while I was there they wanted to groom me for work in the Star Wars program designing weapons ignited by hydrogen bombs. I didn’t want to do that. I thought about how many scientists had died in World War II.


I think that by creating a world of plenty, by creating institutions and organizations that promote knowledge and promote understanding, I think I could be part of being in a better world.


In the future, you’ll simply jump into your car, turn on the Internet, turn on a movie and sit back and relax and turn on the automatic pilot, and the car will drive itself.


The results of these and other studies were eye-opening. The children who exhibited delayed gratification scored higher on almost every measure of success in life: higher-paying jobs, lower rates of drug addiction, higher test scores, higher educational attainment, better social integration, etc.


It seems that the one characteristic most closely correlated with success in life, which has persisted over the decades, is the ability to delay gratification.


Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, concludes, “Your grades in school, your scores on the SAT, mean less for life success than your capacity to co-operate, your ability to regulate your emotions, your capacity to delay your gratification, and your capacity to focus your attention. Those skills are far more important – all the data indicate – for life success than your IQ or your grades.


One problem with politics is that it is a zero sum game, i.e. politicians argue how to cut the pie smaller and smaller, by reshuffling pieces of the pie. I think this is destructive. Instead, we should be creating a bigger pie, i.e. funding the science that is the source of all our prosperity. Science is not a zero sum game.


But on the question of whether the robots will eventually take over, he {Rodney A. Brooks} says that this will probably not happen, for a variety of reasons. First, no one is going to accidentally build a robot that wants to rule the world. He says that creating a robot that can suddenly take over is like someone accidentally building a 747 jetliner. Plus, there will be plenty of time to stop this from happening. Before someone builds a “super-bad robot,” someone has to build a “mildly bad robot,” and before that a “not-so-bad robot.


There is so much noise on the Internet, with would-be prophets daily haranguing their audience and megalomaniacs trying to push bizarre ideas, that eventually people will cherish a new commodity: wisdom.


The Europeans and the Americans are not throwing $10 billion down this gigantic tube for nothing. We’re exploring the very forefront of physics and cosmology with the Large Hadron Collider because we want to have a window on creation, we want to recreate a tiny piece of Genesis to unlock some of the greatest secrets of the universe.


Physics is often stranger than science fiction, and I think science fiction takes its cues from physics: higher dimensions, wormholes, the warping of space and time, stuff like that.


We need a theory that goes before the Big Bang, and that’s String Theory. String Theory says that perhaps two universes collided to create our universe, or maybe our universe is butted from another universe leaving an umbilical cord. Well, that umbilical cord is called a wormhole.


We physicists don’t like to admit it, but some of us are closet science fiction fans. We hate to admit it because it sounds undignified. But when we were children, that’s when we got interested in science, for a lot of us.


The challenge to our civilization which has come from our knowledge of the cosmic energies that fuels the stars, the movement of light and electrons through matter, the intricate molecular order which is the biological basis of life, must be met by the creation of a moral and political order which will accommodate these forces or we shall be destroyed. It will try our deepest resources of reason and compassion. We do spend too much time on the telephone, and you know something? We love it.


Intelligence seems to be correlated with the complexity with which we can simulate future events.


To understand the precise point when the possible becomes the impossible, you have to appreciate and understand the laws of physics.


Cancer is like the common cold; there are so many different types. In the future we’ll still have cancer, but we’ll detect it very, very early, so that it won’t kill anybody. We’ll zap it at the molecular level decades before it grows into a tumor.


Entire cities could sprout instantly in the desert, with skyscrapers made entirely of force fields.


Already physicists are doing the basic calculations necessary to make an MRI machine fit into a cell phone.


Science is definitely part of America’s infrastructure, the engine of prosperity. And yet science is given almost no visibility in the media.


It’s very dangerous to put astronauts on a moon base where there’s radiation, solar flares and micro meteorites. It’d be much better to put robots on the moon and have them mentally connected to astronauts on the Earth.


The river of time may fork into rivers, in which case you have a parallel reality and so then you can become a time traveler and not have to worry about causing a time paradox.


We have learned more about the brain in the last fifteen years than in all prior human history, and the mind, once considered out of reach, is finally assuming center stage.


I believe that science is the engine of prosperity, that if you look around at the wealth of civilization today, it’s the wealth that comes from science.


The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can’t measure it, then we say it probably doesn’t exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. … That’s one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there’s no alternative.


I used to watch the old ‘Flash Gordon’ series on TV, and it was thrilling to rocket to the planet Mongo every week. But after a while, I figured out that although Flash got the girl and all the accolades, it was really Dr. Zarkov who made the series work. Without Dr. Zarkov, there could be no Flash Gordon.


It turns out that the left temporal lobe, if there’s a lesion there, will create hyper-religiosity. People become super-religious. They see demons and spirits everywhere. We think Joan of Arc may have had it.


…the entire electromagnetic spectrum – from radar to TV, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, microwaves, and gamma rays – is nothing but Maxwell waves, which in turn are vibrating Faraday force fields.


A hundred years ago, Auguste Comte,  a great philosopher, said that humans will never be able to visit the stars, that we will never know what stars are made out of, that that’s the one thing that science will never ever understand, because they’re so far away. And then, just a few years later, scientists took starlight, ran it through a prism, looked at the rainbow coming from the starlight, and said: “Hydrogen!” Just a few years after this very rational, very reasonable, very scientific prediction was made, that we’ll never know what stars are made of.


THE SPLIT-BRAIN PARADOX One way in which this picture, based on the corporate hierarchy of a company, deviates from the actual structure of the brain can be seen in the curious case of split-brain patients. One unusual feature of the brain is that it has two nearly identical halves, or hemispheres, the left and right. Scientists have long wondered why the brain has this unnecessary redundancy, since the brain can operate even if one entire hemisphere is completely removed. No normal corporate hierarchy has this strange feature. Furthermore, if each hemisphere has consciousness, does this mean that we have two separate centers of consciousness inside one skull?


I am a futurist, projecting trends in science into the next decades and century, but ironically my two daughters – one is a neuroscientist and the other is a pastry chef – tell me that my taste in music is positively prehistoric.


To understand the difficulty of predicting the next 100 years, we have to appreciate the difficulty that the people of 1900 had in predicting the world of 2000.


In string theory, all particles are vibrations on a tiny rubber band; physics is the harmonies on the string; chemistry is the melodies we play on vibrating strings; the universe is a symphony of strings, and the ‘Mind of God’ is cosmic music resonating in 11-dimensional hyperspace.


No one knows who wrote the laws of physics or where they come from. Science is based on testable, reproducible evidence, and so far we cannot test the universe before the Big Bang.


Futurism today is led by science-fiction writers, by sociologists, by historians. Now, I have nothing against them. I’m sure they do great work. But they’re not scientists. They’re clueless.


Although consciousness is a patchwork of competing and often contradictory tendencies, the left brain ignores inconsistencies and papers over obvious gaps in order to give us a smooth sense of a single “I.” In other words, the left brain is constantly making excuses, some of them harebrained and preposterous, to make sense of the world. It is constantly asking “Why?” and dreaming up excuses even if the question has no answer.


When you come up with a theory, you fall in love with the beauty the simplicity and elegance of it. But then you have to get a sheet of paper and pencil and crack out all the details. Hundreds and hundreds of pages. Because you have to prove it.


In the future we’ll be able to mentally contact anybody we want, see whatever image we want. And when we don’t like it, we’ll just turn it off.


So often, science fiction helps to get young people interested in science. That’s why I don’t mind talking about science fiction. It has a real role to play: to seize the imagination.


In science, nothing is ever 100% proven.


To a physicist, we have the ‘I’ word, the I-word is ‘impossible.’ That’s dangerous.


My point is, no one can stop the Internet. No one can stop that march. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be smooth, though.


For relaxation, I like to figure skate. Being on the ice and spinning and jumping, I feel very close to nature. In particular, I feel very close to Newton’s laws of motion. On the ice, you can experience Newton’s laws of motion in their purest, most elegant form.


Recent brain scans have shed light on how the brain simulates the future. These simulation are done mainly in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the CEO of the brain, using memories of the past. On one hand, simulations of the future may produce outcomes that are desirable and pleasurable, in which case the pleasure centers of the brain light up (in the nucleus accumbens and the hypothalamus). On the other hand, these outcomes may also have a downside to them, so the orbitofrontal cortex kicks in to warn us of possible dancers. There is a struggle, then, between different parts of the brain concerning the future, which may have desirable and undesirable outcomes. Ultimately it is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that mediates between these and makes the final decisions. (Some neurologists have pointed out that this struggle resembles, in a crude way, the dynamics between Freud’s ego, id, and superego.)


Even if we mortgage the next 100 years of generations of human beings, we would not have enough energy to build a Death Star.


I think Newton would be the greatest scientist who ever lived.


When I was a child, it was cool to be a scientist.


If I wasn’t a professional scientist, I’d be an amateur scientist. But plan B was to go into computers.


sixteenth-century philosopher Michel de Montaigne once wrote, “When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not playing with me rather than I with her?”


Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg likens this multiple universe theory to radio. All around you, there are hundreds of different radio waves being broadcast from distant stations. At any given instant, your office or car or living room is full of these radio waves. However, if you turn on a radio, you can listen to only one frequency at a time; these other frequencies have decohered and are no longer in phase with each other. Each station has a different energy, a different frequency. As a result, your radio can only be turned to one broadcast at a time.Likewise, in our universe we are “tuned” into the frequency that corresponds to physical reality. But there are an infinite number of parallel realities coexisting with us in the same room, although we cannot “tune into” them. Although these worlds are very much alike, each has a different energy. And because each world consists of trillions upon trillions of atoms, this means that the energy difference can be quite large. Since the frequency of these waves is proportional to their energy (by Planck’s law), this means that the waves of each world vibrate at different frequencies and cannot interact anymore. For all intents and purposes, the waves of these various worlds do not interact or influence each other.


The media, of course, loves to make claims about the fountain of youth. Don’t believe it. No one has it. But we’re getting close.


There are 60 sub-atomic particles they’ve discovered that can explain the thousands of other sub-atomic particles, and the model is too ugly. This is my analogy: it’s like taking Scotch tape and taping a giraffe to a mule to a whale to a tiger and saying this is the ultimate theory of particles. … We have so many particles that Oppenheimer once said you could give a Nobel Prize to the physicist that did not discover a particle that year. We were drowning in sub-atomic particles. Now we realize that this whole zoo of sub-atomic particles, thousands of them coming out of our accelerators, can be explained by little vibrating strings.


When you look at the calculation, it’s amazing that every time you try to prove or disprove time travel, you’ve pushed Einstein’s theory to the very limits where quantum effects must dominate. That’s telling us that you really need a theory of everything to resolve this question. And the only candidate is string theory.


You see, I’m also a futurist. I dream about the world 50, 100, maybe even 1,000 years in the future. But I also realize I’m probably not going to see it. However, I wouldn’t mind having at least a copy of myself see the future, maybe 50, 100, 1,000 years into the future. It would be a fantastic ride.


Something as superfluous as “play” is also an essential feature of our consciousness. If you ask children why they like to play, they will say, “Because it’s fun.” But that invites the next question: What is fun? Actually, when children play, they are often trying to reenact complex human interactions in simplified form. Human society is extremely sophisticated, much too involved for the developing brains of young children, so children run simplified simulations of adult society, playing games such as doctor, cops and robber, and school. Each game is a model that allows children to experiment with a small segment of adult behavior and then run simulations into the future. (Similarly, when adults engage in play, such as a game of poker, the brain constantly creates a model of what cards the various players possess, and then projects that model into the future, using previous data about people’s personality, ability to bluff, etc. The key to games like chess, cards, and gambling is the ability to simulate the future. Animals, which live largely in the present, are not as good at games as humans are, especially if they involve planning. Infant mammals do engage in a form of play, but this is more for exercise, testing one another, practicing future battles, and establishing the coming social pecking order rather than simulating the future.)


I get paid to do what I love. If you understand physics, the foundation of the atomic theory and relativity, you understand how the future is going to unfold. You understand what things are not possible. You understand why things work. I get paid to do what I love the most, and that is to work on the Unified Field Theory and to see the future.


I’m a physicist, and we have something called Moore’s Law, which says computer power doubles every 18 months. So every Christmas, we more or less assume that our toys and appliances are more or less twice as powerful as the previous Christmas.


The universe is a symphony of strings, and the mind of God that Einstein eloquently wrote about for thirty years would be cosmic music resonating through eleven-dimensional hyper space.


One day when I was 8 years old, everyone was talking in hushed tones about a great scientist that had just died. His name was Albert Einstein.


You have to have a cultural ethic that allows for making mistakes. It cannot be that just because you make mistakes, you’re out. You have to make mistakes in order to innovate.


In 2025, don’t be surprised if a Chinese flag is placed on the moon.


Gossiping is essential for survival because the complex mechanics of social interactions are constantly changing, so we have to make sense of this ever-shifting social terrain. This is Level II consciousness at work. But once we hear a piece of gossip, we immediately run simulations to determine how this will affect our own standing in the community, which moves us to Level III consciousness. Thousands of years ago, in fact, gossip was the only way to obtain vital information about the tribe. One’s very life often depended on knowing the latest gossip.


There’s no reason why we cannot become smarter, more perfect, and maybe even live longer.


We’re in ‘Jurassic Park’ territory. If we go to the zoo in the future, we’ll have zoos for extinct animals.


No one knows when a robot will approach human intelligence, but I suspect it will be late in the 21st century. Will they be dangerous? Possibly. So I suggest we put a chip in their brain to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts.


There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. … Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness.


In science fiction, telepaths often communicate across language barriers, since thoughts are considered to be universal. However, this might not be true. Emotions and feelings may well be nonverbal and universal, so that one could telepathically send them to anyone, but rational thinking is so closely tied to language that it is very unlikely that complex thoughts could be sent across language barriers. Words will still be sent telepathically in their original language.


Our astronauts, when they go orbiting around the earth, they actually come back slightly younger than a twin that they would have on the planet Earth who was stationary. This is called the twin paradox.


I realized very early in life what my abilities and limitations were, and foreign languages was definitely one of my limitations. With strenuous effort, I just barely passed my French class at Harvard so I could graduate.


Climate change is the 800-pound gorilla in the living room that the media dances around. But in the scientific community, it’s a settled question: 95 percent of scientists believe this is happening with 100 percent confidence temperatures are rising.


Consciousness, there are about 20,000 papers on consciousness with no consensus. Nowhere in history have so many people devoted so much time to produce so little.


Global warming is actually a misnomer. It should be global extremes and global swings, because you add – as you add more energy into the atmosphere, it sloshes around. Energy doesn’t simply uniformly warm up the planet. And that means droughts in one area, enormous snowstorms in another area, 100-year floods here, 100-year forest fires there.


Now, we used to think the brain was like a computer. But now, we realize that’s not true. There’s no programming of the brain. There’s no Windows. And we think the brain is more like a large corporation. Because think of the unconscious mind. In a corporation, you have subdivisions which operate independently of the main office.


We actually have a candidate for the mind of God. The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God.


You cannot create new science unless you realize where the old science leaves off and new science begins, and science fiction forces us to confront this.


When we’re born, we want to know why the stars shine. We want to know why the sun rises.


They found that temperature and carbon dioxide levels have oscillated in parallel, like two roller coasters moving together, in synchronization over many thousands of years. When one curve rises or falls, so does the other. Most important, they found a sudden spike in temperature and carbon dioxide content happening just within the last century. This is highly unusual, since most fluctuations occur slowly over millennia. This unusual spike is not part of this natural heating process, scientists claim, but is a direct indicator of human activity.


The yeoman’s work in any science, and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.


One in 200 stars has habitable Earth-like planets surrounding it – in the galaxy, half a billion stars have Earth-like planets going around them – that’s huge, half a billion. So when we look at the night sky, it makes sense that someone is looking back at us.


It would take a civilization far more advanced than ours, unbelievably advanced, to begin to manipulate negative energy to create gateways to the past. But if you could obtain large quantities of negative energy – and that’s a big ‘If’ – then you could create a time machine that apparently obeys Einstein’s equation and perhaps the laws of quantum theory.


Anything that promotes a kernel of science, even though it’s exaggerated and hyped by Hollywood, I think is a step forward. We in the ivory tower ultimately have to realize that in some sense we have to sing for our supper.


Leaders in China and India realize that science and technology lead to success and wealth. But many countries in the West graduate students into the unemployment line by teaching skills that were necessary to live in 1950.


Having a super-brain does not suddenly make you a dictator of the world. So we don’t have to fear the scenarios of science fiction where the Lex Luthors of the world take over. People with exceptional ability, they don’t become politicians; they don’t become multi-millionaires; some of them just become professors like me, making a measly income.


I confess I sometimes sneak a peek at ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ I chuckle at their antics. But I cringe when they portray physicists as clueless nerds who are doormats when it comes to picking up women.


The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.


Some advice: keep the flame of curiosity and wonderment alive, even when studying for boring exams. That is the well from which we scientists draw our nourishment and energy. And also, learn the math. Math is the language of nature, so we have to learn this language.


The job market of the future will consist of those jobs that robots cannot perform. Our blue-collar work is pattern recognition, making sense of what you see. Gardeners will still have jobs because every garden is different. The same goes for construction workers. The losers are white-collar workers, low-level accountants, brokers, and agents.


hysicists often quote from T. H. White’s epic novel The Once and Future King , where a society of ants declares, ‘Everything not forbidden is compulsory.’ In other words, if there isn’t a basic principle of physics forbidding time travel, then time travel is necessarily a physical possibility. (The reason for this is the uncertainty principle. Unless something is forbidden, quantum effects and fluctuations will eventually make it possible if we wait long enough. Thus, unless there is a law forbidding it, it will eventually occur.)


It’s pointless to have a nice clean desk, because it means you’re not doing anything.


What we usually consider as impossible are simply engineering problems… there’s no law of physics preventing them.


Sometimes the public says, ‘What’s in it for Numero Uno? Am I going to get better television reception? Am I going to get better Internet reception?’ Well, in some sense, yeah. … All the wonders of quantum physics were learned basically from looking at atom-smasher technology. … But let me let you in on a secret: We physicists are not driven to do this because of better color television. … That’s a spin-off. We do this because we want to understand our role and our place in the universe.


We have to realize that science is a double-edged sword. One edge of the sword can cut against poverty, illness, disease and give us more democracies, and democracies never war with other democracies, but the other side of the sword could give us nuclear proliferation, biogerms and even forces of darkness.


For bedtime reading, I usually curl up with a good monograph on quantum physics or string theory, my specialty. But since I was a child, I have been fascinated by science fiction. My all-time favorite is ‘The Foundation Trilogy,’ by Isaac Asimov.


You can mass-produce hardware; you cannot mass-produce software – you cannot mass-produce the human mind.


Srinivasa Ramanujan was the strangest man in all of mathematics, probably in the entire history of science. He has been compared to a bursting supernova, illuminating the darkest, most profound corners of mathematics, before being tragically struck down by tuberculosis at the age of 33… Working in total isolation from the main currents of his field, he was able to rederive 100 years’ worth of Western mathematics on his own. The tragedy of his life is that much of his work was wasted rediscovering known mathematics.


If you want to see a black hole tonight, tonight just look in the direction of Sagittarius, the constellation. That’s the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and there’s a raging black hole at the very center of that constellation that holds the galaxy together.


Animals apparently dream differently than we do. In the dolphin, for example, only one hemisphere at a time sleeps in order to prevent drowning, because they are air-breathing mammals, not fish. So if they dream, it is probably in only one hemisphere at a time.


Years ago, I picked up figure skating. How hard could spins and jumps be, I thought? It’s just applied Newtonian physics. After repeatedly falling on my rear end, I realized it was harder than I thought. But it had an upside. That is how I met my wife, who was ice dancing at the Rockefeller Center ice rink.


Global warming is controversial, of course, but the controversy is mainly over whether human activity is driving it.


Humans are natural-born scientists. When we’re born, we want to know why the stars shine. We want to know why the sun rises.


We can summarize electricity, magnetism and gravity into equations one inch long, and that’s the power of field theory. And so I said to myself: I will create a field theory of strings. And when I did it one day, it was incredible, realizing that on a sheet of paper I can write down an equation which summarized almost all physical knowledge.


Some people are a little bit afraid about the future because they see all these gadgets and gizmos coming down the pike and they think they’re too old to learn all this new stuff. But eventually they begin to realize, ‘Hey, some of this stuff is useful.’


First of all, the Big Bang wasn’t very big. Second of all, there was no bang. Third, Big Bang Theory doesn’t tell you what banged, when it banged, how it banged. It just said it did bang. So the Big Bang theory in some sense is a total misnomer.


These computer simulations try only to duplicate the interactions between the cortex and the thalamus. Huge chunks of the brain are therefore missing. Dr. [Dharmendra] Modha understands the enormity of his project. His ambitious research has allowed him to estimate what it would take to create a working model of the entire human brain, and not just a portion or a pale version of it, complete with all parts of the neocortex and connections to the senses. He envisions using not just a single Blue Gene computer [with over a hundred thousand processors and terabytes of RAM] but thousands of them, which would fill up not just a room but an entire city block. The energy consumption would be so great that you would need a thousand-megawatt nuclear power plant to generate all the electricity. And then, to cool off this monstrous computer so it wouldn’t melt, you would need to divert a river and send it through the computer circuits.


It is remarkable that a gigantic, city-size computer is required to simulate a piece of human tissue that weighs three pounds, fits inside your skull, raises your body temperature by only a few degrees, uses twenty watts of power, and needs only a few hamburgers to keep it going.


No matter how beautiful the theory, one irritating fact can dismiss the entire formulism, so it has to be proven.


Our grandkids will lead the lives of the gods of mythology. Zeus could think and move objects around. We’ll have that power. Venus had a perfect, timeless body. We’ll have that, too. Pegasus was a flying horse. We’ll be able to modify life in the future.


When I was 16 years old, I assembled a 2.3 million electron volt beta particle accelerator. I went to Westinghouse, I got 400 pounds of translator steel, 22 miles of copper wire, and I assembled a 6-kilowatt, 2.3 million electron accelerator in the garage.


In Einstein’s equation, time is a river. It speeds up, meanders, and slows down. The new wrinkle is that it can have whirlpools and fork into two rivers. So, if the river of time can be bent into a pretzel, create whirlpools and fork into two rivers, then time travel cannot be ruled out.


Science fiction without the science just becomes, you know, sword and sorcery, basically stories about heroism and not much more.


If a Martian came down to Earth and watched television, he’d come to conclusion that all the world’s society is based on Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. He’d be amazed that our society hasn’t collapsed.


Aging is basically the build-up of error: error at the genetic level, error at the cellular level. Cells normally repair themselves; that’s why you heal when you get a cut. But even the mechanism of repair eventually falls apart.


I believe we exist in a multiverse of universes.


In 1967, the second resolution to the cat problem was formulated by Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner, whose work was pivotal in laying the foundation of quantum mechanics and also building the atomic bomb. He said that only a conscious person can make an observation that collapses the wave function. But who is to say that this person exists? You cannot separate the observer from the observed, so maybe this person is also dead and alive. In other words, there has to be a new wave function that includes both the cat and the observer. To make sure that the observer is alive, you need a second observer to watch the first observer. This second observer is called “Wigner’s friend,” and is necessary to watch the first observer so that all waves collapse. But how do we know that the second observer is alive? The second observer has to be included in a still-larger wave function to make sure he is alive, but this can be continued indefinitely. Since you need an infinite number of ‘friends’ to collapse the previous wave function to make sure they are alive, you need some form of ‘cosmic consciousness,’ or God. Wigner concluded: “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Toward the end of his life, he even became interested in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. In this approach, God or some eternal consciousness watches over all of us, collapsing our wave functions so that we can say we are alive. This interpretation yields the same physical results as the Copenhagen interpretation, so this theory cannot be disproven. But the implication is that consciousness is the fundamental entity in the universe, more fundamental than atoms. The material world may come and go, but consciousness remains as the defining element, which means that consciousness, in some sense, creates reality. The very existence of the atoms we see around us is based on our ability to see and touch them.


Consciousness-one level is understanding where we are in space. Consciousness two is where we understand our position in society: who’s top dog, who’s underdog and who’s in the middle. And type-three consciousness is simulating the future. And type-three consciousness, only humans have this ability to see far into the future.


Beyond work and love, I would add two other ingredients that give meaning to life. First, to fulfill whatever talents we are born with. However blessed we are by fate with different abilities and strengths, we should try to develop them to the fullest, rather than allow them to atrophy and decay. We all know individuals who did not fulfill the promise they showed in childhood. Many of them became haunted by the image of what they might have become. Instead of blaming fate, I think we should accept ourselves as we are and try to fulfill whatever dreams are within our capability.


most religions adhere to some form of determinism and predestination. Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He knows the future, and hence the future is determined ahead of time. He knows even before you are born whether you will go to Heaven or Hell. The Catholic Church split in half on this precise question during the Protestant revolution. According to Catholic doctrine at that time, one could change one’s ultimate fate with an indulgence, usually by making generous financial donations to the Church. In other words, determinism could be altered by the size of your wallet.


Second, we should try to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. As individuals, we can make a difference, whether it is to probe the secrets of Nature, to clean up the environment and work for peace and social justice, or to nurture the inquisitive, vibrant spirit of the young by being a mentor and a guide.


Facts

(Last updated: September, 2018)

Full Birth Name: Michio Kaku

Born: January 24, 1947

Years old: 71

Months old: 860

Days old: 26,152

Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Place born: San Jose, California

Place raised: Palo Alto, California

Family’s early economic position: Middle income (estimated)

Ancestry: Japanese

Siblings: one older brother


Current Residence: New York City

Spouse/Partner: Shizue Kaku

Children: two daughters, Alyson and Michelle.


Height: 5′ 7″ 1.70 m (estimated)

Weight: 150 (estimated)

Pounds per Inch: 2.24

Kilograms per Centimeter: 2.35

Body Mass Index (BMI): 23.5
(18.5 to 25 is considered healthy)

Longevity
Estimated Years Remaining: 20
Estimated Last Day Alive: February 15, 2034


Oddities

Physicists tend to fit in one of two categories. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist. The other kind of physicist is an experimental physicist. The theoretical physicists work ideas out on paper, or famously on chalkboards, or on computers. They must be very strong in math. Once they come up with their theories, it is up to the experimental physicists to build and run equipment to see whether proof can be found.


Dr. Michio Kaku is known as a ‘popularizer of science,’ and a futurist.


As a famous popularizer of science, he follows several years after Dr. Carl Sagan, who was an astronomer.


His website is mkaku.org.


When he’s not on radio or television, Dr. Kaku holds the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics chair at the City College of New York.


City College of New York has a full and part-time academic staff of 1,495, and an administrative staff of 401. They serve 13,113 undergraduates, and 3,048 postgraduates. Most likely, Dr. Kaku spends most of his time with a few of the postgraduates. The college, located on 35 acres in Manhattan, has 16 sports teams, mostly known as the Beavers. Their colors are Lavender and Black.


His book published in 2014 is The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind.


Whereas his parents emigrated from Japan, they have Tibetan DNA ancestry.


Michio’s father was born in California, but educated in Japan and spoke little English.


His parents met at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center. During World War II, it was assumed that Japanese citizens could be dangerous, so they were all taken from their homes and businesses and put in internment camps, not unlike POW camps.

Tule lake is near the northern border of California. It was the largest one of ten such centers, with an eventual population of 18,700 detainees. The Japanese citizens of the US were segregated into ‘bad but loyal’ and ‘bad and disloyal, sent to Tule Lake.’ This separation was based on a questionnaire handed out to all Japanese adults. Two of the questions asked about American loyalty. The most controversial question asked whether young men would be willing to join the war effort and fight for America. As you can imagine, it would be hard to answer that question, since they had just been imprisoned by the country they were supposed to defend. Others would have trouble with the questions because they were not well versed in the English language.

Included in the Tule Lake population were photographers, artists, musicians, doctors, sports figures, even a US congressman. You may remember George Takei from Star Trek and Pat Morita of The Karate Kid. Yup, they were detained at Tule Lake along with Michio’s parents.


Michio is famous for assembling a particle accelerator – also known as a betatron in his parents’ garage. Whereas he actually did assemble huge bundles of copper while, his relatively small device was not enough for any groundbreaking discoveries. In comparison, the CERN accelerator is seventeen miles in diameter. On the other hand, the construction and potential use of his home-built unit no doubt set him on a course that has led to his being able to popularize science, physics in particular.


His field of pursuit is string theory. This posits that if you could examine matter in small enough detail, it all resolves to vibrations.


Michio graduated suma cum laude at Harvard University in 1968 on a Hertz Engineering Scholarship.


He then went on to receive a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, working from the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in 1972.


Immediately upon graduating, he went to the east coast, to Princeton University in New Jersey to take up a lectureship in physics.


Michio Kaku participated in Army training near the end of the Vietnam War. He was never deployed.


He has published more than 70 scientific papers on superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry and hadronic physics. He has also published textbooks on advanced physics.


During the early days of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Dr. Kaku was a frequent guest on news programs.


According to a Wikipedia article which sums up his position nicely, “Kaku considers climate change and terrorism as serious threats in man’s evolution from a Type 0 civilization to Type 1…Kaku has publicly stated his concerns over matters including the anthropogenic cause of global warming, nuclear armament, nuclear power and the general misuse of science.”


Early in his career, Michio had the choice to work with others toward the next generation of nuclear weapons. He decided it would be better to focus on research, teaching, writing and media.


Michio Kaku is a board member of WBAI-FM in New York City, from which his radio program, Exploration has been broadcast for several years.