Michio Kaku: The Future of Humanity @ Talks at Google (Transcript)

And when Elon Musk was a high school student, he read the book, “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov. How many people have read the “Foundation” series by Isaac Asimov? Then you know that that is a dream of becoming a multi planet species. It’s not going to happen anytime soon. But we begin the process of terraforming Mars perhaps in this century.

FEMALE SPEAKER: I love how you talk a lot about science fiction and that there’s — that science fiction has both inspired and predicted some of the technological advances that we’ve seen and some of the things that we learn about our universe. Do you have a favorite anecdote or story of where fact and fiction have intersected?

MICHIO KAKU: Well, I’m on radio. And people call me. And many times people say, professor, you’re wrong. You’re wrong because the aliens are already here. They’re not in outer space. They’ve already landed with their flying saucers.

So, I tell them, well, how do you know? And they say, well, they’ve been kidnapped, kidnapped by flying saucers. So if any of you have ever been kidnapped by a flying saucer, for God’s sake, steal something. There’s no law against stealing from an extraterrestrial civilization, no law whatsoever. Steal anything — an alien chip, an alien hammer, an alien paperclip, anything, so you have bragging rights about going into outer space on a flying saucer.

FEMALE SPEAKER: I like that idea. Noted. Not that Google endorses any kind of that activity.

MICHIO KAKU: But there’s no law against stealing from an extraterrestrial civilization.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Should there be?

MICHIO KAKU: No.

FEMALE SPEAKER: No. So what are the — once we’ve established a presence within our solar system, and we know how to get around, what’s beyond that?

MICHIO KAKU: Well, already we physicists are looking at starships. NASA has a 100 year starship program. My colleague, the former Stephen Hawking, already was responsible for the break through Star Shot program to send the first starship to a nearby star. It would be the size of a postage stamp. It’s a chip with a parachute, inflated by a bank of laser beams, which would accelerate it to 20% the speed of light. And it would reach Alpha Centauri in 20 years.

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And so we are talking about the first microchip starship to take us to the heavens. And then we physicists have looked at Ram jet fusion engines. Fusion engines — of course, we don’t have them yet, but one day we will — Ram jet fusion engines require no fueling whatsoever. They scoop up hydrogen in the forward direction like an ice cream cone, burn interstellar hydrogen in the engine, and run forever with no refueling whatsoever. That’s the Ram jet fusion engine, which could possibly take us to the nearby stars.

And then even beyond that, there’s a possibility of maybe using a black hole. And, of course, just this morning we had the first picture ever of a black hole that’s been revealed to the public.

And what is a black hole? A black hole is a cosmic roach motel. Everything checks in, nothing checks out. And we photographed it. And there’s a controversy as to what’s on the other side of the black hole. Some people say nothing. Things just fall in, and that’s the end of the story.

But if you look at the mathematics, we have an exact solution of Einstein’s equation, given by Roy Kerr in 1963, of a rotating black hole. A rotating black hole does not collapse to a dot. That’s the old fashioned thinking. It collapses to a ring, a ring of neutrons. And if you fall through the ring of neutrons vertically, you wind up in Wonderland. You wind up on the other side of forever. It’s a gateway to a wormhole.

And if you fall through a second time, you wind up on a second parallel universe. So it’s sort of like hitting the up button of an elevator. You have different floors. Each time you go to a different floor, every time you go through the gateway. And then the question is, is that a solution of Einstein’s equations? And the answer is, yes.

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What’s the catch? There’s always a catch someplace. And that is, we don’t know how stable the wormhole is. That requires us to go beyond Einstein. Einstein’s equations give us rotating black holes, where there’s a gateway to a parallel universe. That’s Einstein’s theory. However, we don’t know whether radiation effects, as quantum effects, will destabilize it. That’s where string theory comes in.

String theory is a quantum theory. Now we can calculate quantum corrections and calculate the stability of the wormhole, but that is still an active area investigation. And then the question is, if you go through the wormhole, can you go backwards in time? And the answer is, yes. These things are potentially time machines as well.

And then the question is, what happens if you go backwards in time meet your mother before you’re born, and she falls in love with you? Well you’re in deep doo doo if that happens. But yeah, the quantum theory does make possible the fact that you might be able to build a time machine if you can stabilize the Kerr metric.

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