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

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.

Pattern recognition, as we have seen, is one of the main obstacles to artificial intelligence.

Scientific revolutions, almost by definition, defy common sense.

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 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.

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.

There are an estimated 100 billion neurons residing inside the skull with an exponential amount of neural connections.

After that cancellation [of the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas, after $2 billion had been spent on it], we physicists learned that we have to sing for our supper. ... The Cold War is over. You can't simply say Russia! to Congress, and they whip out their checkbook and say, How much? We have to tell the people why this atom-smasher is going to benefit their lives.

At first, it seems as if the existence of complex life forms on Earth violates the second law. It seems remarkable that out of the chaos of the early Earth emerged an incredible diversity of intricate life forms, even harboring intelligence and consciousness, lowering the amount of entropy. Some have taken this miracle to imply the hand of a benevolent creator. But remember that life is driven by the natural laws of evolution, and that total entropy still increases, because additional energy fueling life is constantly being added by the Sun. If we include the Sun and Earth, then the total entropy still increases.

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.

First is Epsilon, which equals 0.007, which is the relative amount of hydrogen that converts to helium via fusion in the big bang.

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

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 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.

In fact, in one swoop, this 10 dimensional string theory gives us a simple, compelling unification of all forces. Like a violin string, these tiny strings can vibrate and create resonances or ?notes?. That explains why there are so many sub- atomic particles: they are just notes on a superstring. (This seems so simple, but in the 1950s, physicists were drowning in an avalanche of sub-atomic particles. J.R. Oppenheim- er, who helped build the atomic bomb, even said, out of sheer frustration, that the Nobel Prize should go to the physicist who does NOT discover a new particle that year!) Similarly, when the string moves in space and time, it warps the space around it just as Einstein predicted. Thus, in a remarkably simple picture, we can unify gravity (as the bending of space caused by moving strings) with the other quantum forces (now viewed as vibrations of the string).

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.

It would be great if we had our own personal force fields. Just imagine creating your own architecture in your room. Buildings. You wouldn't have to spend all that time saving your money for that second house. You'd simply push a button and have as many houses as you want.

Maxwell's equations... originally consisted of eight equations. These equations are not "beautiful." They do not possess much symmetry. In their original form, they are ugly. ...However, when rewritten using time as the fourth dimension, this rather awkward set of eight equations collapses into a single tensor equation. This is what a physicist calls "beauty," because both criteria are now satisfied.

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.

Perhaps that is our destiny: to give birth to superrobots that treat us as an embarrassingly primitive footnote in their evolution.

Scientists can also insert a chip into the brain of a patient who is totally paralyzed and connect it to a computer, so that through thought alone that patient can surf the web, read and write e-mails, play video games, control their wheelchair, operate household appliances, and manipulate mechanical arms. In fact, such patients can do anything a normal person can do via a computer.

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.

The fruit fly has roughly 150,000 neurons in the brain.

The point is: whenever there is a conflict between modern technology and the desires of our primitive ancestors, these primitive desires win each time. That?s the Cave Man Principle.

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

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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