Michio Kaku


American Futurist, Theoretical Physicist, Popularizer of Science, Author, Henry Semat Chair and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York

Author Quotes

Although humans have existed on this planet for perhaps 2 million years, the rapid climb to modern civilization within the last 200 years was possible due to the fact that the growth of scientific knowledge is exponential; that is, its rate of expansion is proportional to how much is already known. The more we know, the faster we can know more. For example, we have amassed more knowledge since World War II than all the knowledge amassed in our 2-million-year evolution on this planet. In fact, the amount of knowledge that our scientists gain doubles approximately every 10 to 20 years.

Chances are, when we meet intelligent life forms in outer space they're going to be descended from predators.

Eternal life does not violate the laws of physics. After all, we only die because of one word: "error." The longer we live, the more errors there are that are made by our bodies when they read our genes. That means cells get sluggish. The body doesn't function as well as it could, which is why the skin ages. Then organs eventually fail, so that's why we die.

For them, the last option was to have brain surgery, which involved removing parts of the skull and exposing the brain. (Since the brain has no pain sensors, a person can be conscious during this entire procedure, so Dr. Penfield used only a local anesthetic during the operation.)

I agree, along with Carl Sagan, that we should eventually become a two planet species. Life is too precious to place on a single planet. But I also think we should explore new ways to drive down the cost of space travel. instead of costly booster rockets, maybe we should think of laser/microwave driven rockets, or space elevators. Until then, the cost of space exploration will limit our ability to explore the universe.

I say looking at the next 100 years that there are two trends in the world today. The first trend is toward what we call a type one civilization, a planetary civilization... The danger is the transition between type zero and type one and that?s where we are today. We are a type zero civilization. We get our energy from dead plants, oil and coal. But if you get a calculator you can calculate when we will attain type one status. The answer is: in about 100 years we will become planetary. We?ll be able to harness all the energy output of the planet earth. We?ll play with the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes. Anything planetary we will play with. The danger period is now, because we still have the savagery. We still have all the passions. We have all the sectarian, fundamentalist ideas circulating around, but we also have nuclear weapons. ...capable of wiping out life on earth. So I see two trends in the world today. The first trend is toward a multicultural, scientific, tolerant society and everywhere I go I see aspects of that birth. For example, what is the Internet? Many people have written about the Internet. Billions and billions of words written about the Internet, but to me as a physicist the Internet is the beginning of a type one telephone system, a planetary telephone system. So we?re privileged to be alive to witness the birth of type one technology... And what is the European Union? The European Union is the beginning of a type one economy. And how come these European countries, which have slaughtered each other ever since the ice melted 10,000 years ago, how come they have banded together, put aside their differences to create the European Union? ...so we?re beginning to see the beginning of a type one economy as well...

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.

In science, nothing is ever 100% proven.

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.

Like music or art, mathematical equations can have a natural progression and logic that can evoke rare passions in a scientist. Although the lay public considers mathematical equations to be rather opaque, to a scientist an equation is very much like a movement in a larger symphony. Simplicity. Elegance. These are the qualities that have inspired some of the greatest artists to create their masterpieces, and they are precisely the same qualities that motivate scientists to search for the laws of nature. Like a work of art or a haunting poem, equations have a beauty and rhythm all their own.

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.

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.

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

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.'

The brain weighs only three pounds, yet it is the most complex object in the solar system.

The most complex object in the known universe: brain, only uses 20 watts of power. It would require a nuclear power plant to energize a computer the size of a city block to mimic your brain, and your brain does it with just 20 watts. So if someone calls you a dim bulb, that's a compliment.

The two greatest mysteries in all of nature are the mind and the universe.

A hundred years ago, Auguste Compte? 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.

Any three-dimensional image contains a wealth of information: a lot of times the information stored in a two dimensional image.

Chemistry is the melodies you can play on vibrating strings.

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

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.

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.

I think a colony in space will take much longer than sci fiction writers think. It costs $10,000 to put a pound of anything into near earth orbit. That is your weight in gold. It costs about $100,000 a pound to put you on the moon. And it costs $1,000,000 a pound to put you on Mars.

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

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American Futurist, Theoretical Physicist, Popularizer of Science, Author, Henry Semat Chair and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York