Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future | Michio Kaku on Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future | Michio Kaku on Impact Theory".
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You have to sit down, grit your teeth, and do it. I realized every time I was struggling with all these equations, there was that pot of gold out there. I wanted to understand Einstein. I wanted to understand the quantum theory. I wanted to be the cutting edge of science, even if it meant that I had to sit in my chair and simply crank out the math. You gotta pay your dues. - Everybody, welcome to impact theory. You're here, my friends, because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potentials, not the same, is actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. All right, today's guest is a theoretical physicist and the co-creator of String Field Theory.
Understanding Science And Success
Guest intro (00:37)
He's also a futurist and best-selling author many times over, who, while still in high school, created a 2.3 million electron volt particle accelerator in his garage that required 400 pounds of transformer steel and 22 miles of copper wire. This device, astonishing for anyone at any age, caught the attention of Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, who then helped him secure a scholarship to Harvard. An unlikely outcome, perhaps, for a kid whose family had only recently been released from a World War II internment camp before he was born. But despite being an unlikely candidate for the Ivy League, he graduated first in his class at Harvard and has since gone on to become one of the most famous faces in modern science. He's written several PhD-level textbooks and authored more than 70 scholarly articles published in some of the world's most prestigious journals, as well as being a professor who's dedicated his life to picking up where Einstein left off in the quest to develop a theory of everything. In addition to his work in academia, he's also written a string of New York Times best-selling books on popular topics such as Parallel Worlds, The Physics of the Future, The Future of the Mind, and his most recent book on the future of humanity itself. His way of making even the most complicated topics, both accessible and exciting, has made him a globally renowned speaker and one of the most sought-after contributors in science. He's hosted four or collaborated with virtually every science-based channel out there, including Discovery, BBC, ABC, the science channel and the history channel. He's also made guest appearances on practically every major talk show and been a featured columnist for essentially every popular science-based publication that there is. If you have a pulse, you've almost certainly seen him somewhere making you believe in the beauty, wonder, and world of possibilities inherent in science. So please help me in welcoming the host of both science fantastic and explorations in science, Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku, thank you so much for being here. - Thank you. After hearing such a great introduction, I can't wait to hear the speaker myself. - Well, the good news is he's gonna be here. So very excited times are upon us both. I wanna start with your parents.
The smallest unit of history (03:05)
You are insanely optimistic in terms of the future when a lot of people are wildly pessimistic. But you seem like given that your family was interned right before you were born. I think your older brother was born in the intern. - That's right. - How did that influence their outlook on life? - How did that influence your outlook on life? - Well, my parents were incarcerated behind barbed wire machine guns for four years and all their assets were confiscated. And after they were released from the camp, they had nothing, absolutely nothing. And that impressed upon me the fact that you have to look at the big picture. The smallest unit of history, I think, is the decade. Anything smaller than a decade, you get fluctuations. And when you look at history decade for decade for decade, you begin to realize tremendous progress. My grandparents came to California a hundred years ago. A hundred years ago, my grandfather was in the cleanup of the San Francisco earthquake. But imagine, back then, life expectancy was 49 years of age. I mean, you were born, you had kids and died. Life was a bitch. Now, we have an increased lifespan. We have all the luxury goods. Instead of yelling out the window, which is what my grandparents did to communicate, we have the internet. And so when you look at it, the long term, decade for decade, you realize the enormous progress that we've made. And that's why I tend to be more optimistic than the average person. - And were your parents optimistic as well, or was that something that you had to cultivate yourself growing up? - Their attitude was, what is past is past. You pick up the pieces and you move on. You learn from it. And you wanna make sure you don't break it again. You wanna make sure it doesn't happen again. But then you move on. That was their basic philosophy of life. - Fair enough. And how did you relate to your parents? You've told pretty famously the story about asking your mom if you could build an Adam Smasher, and her saying, yes, just take out the garbage first. Was she really that sort of relaxed about the crazy stuff that you were doing, or did you have to earn that? - She didn't know what I was doing. All she knew is I was blowing out all the circuit breakers in the house. Every time the lights would flicker, my mom would say, where's the fuse box? Where's the fuse box? 'Cause it drains six kilowatts of power. All the electricity in the house went into my machine. But I used to imagine, what was she thinking, right? She probably thought, well, maybe if I buy him a basketball, he'll learn basketballs. Maybe if I buy him a baseball, if for God's sake, why can't he find a nice Japanese girlfriend? - So I thought to myself that, she all these must be going through her mind, but the bottom line is she knew it was important. It was the future. And that's why she said, go for it. - You've talked about that kids, you called it the age 10 moment, where kids at age 10, they have this, something happens, they see something, watch a show, they see Sputnik, whatever it was.
The Age 10 Moment That Changes Your Life (05:57)
You had an age eight moment, if I'm not mistaken. What was that moment that really led to you going so deep into science? - There was one moment that changed my entire life. My whole trajectory got derailed. What happened was the great scientist had just died. Everyone was talking about it. And I'll never forget, a picture was flashed on the evening news and all the newspapers. It was a picture of his desk. And the caption said, something like, this is the unfinished manuscript of the greatest scientist of our time. So I said to myself, why couldn't he finish it? - And this is Albert Einstein, right? - Yeah, this was Albert Einstein. What was so hard that he could not finish this one problem? So I went to the library and I found out that it was Albert Einstein and it was the theory of everything, the unified field theory. Einstein wanted an equation one inch long that would allow us to quote, read the mind of God. So I said to myself, wow, that's for me. That's what I wanna work on for the rest of my life. To finish that book. Well, today we think we can do it. We think it is string theory. And that's what I do for a living. That's my day job. - That's pretty incredible though for an eight year old. When you go home and tell your parents, hey, and I'm just imagining like this eight year old kid saying, "I'm gonna go finish Einstein's book, "the thing he spent the last 30 years of his life working on, "and couldn't, I think I'll be able to do that." How do people respond to you? - Well, first of all, I didn't know what I was getting into. I thought it was a homework problem. I thought, well, you talk to your mom, right? You just ask your mom, dear, "Why can't I think it's this problem?" What could be so hard that the greatest scientists of our life couldn't finish it? So I said to myself, I wanna be part of this mission. I wanna be part of this grand journey to complete this theory of everything. So when I talk to young people today, I see that same moment, that epiphany, when they buy their first telescope, they get their first astronomy book, that really energetic glow that they have, saying that, wow, the universe is incredible, it's beautiful. So we're born scientists.
The GREATEST Destroyer of Scientists - Junior Highschool (08:25)
We're born scientists until we hit the greatest destroyer of scientists known to science. The greatest destroyer of scientists is junior high school. Every day we lose hundreds of thousands of junior high school kids who think the scientist's boring, they think the scientist's useless, memorizing facts and figures that never gonna use again. - Was there something different going on when you were in middle school that kept you from falling prey to that? Like what did you do to not get eaten alive by junior high? - Well, not only was I fascinated by the story of Einstein, he could not finish his great theory, Saturday mornings, I would watch television and guess who was on TV, Flash Gordon? I mean rocket ships, ray guns, invisibility shields, I mean, what's not to love? And I said to myself, wow, there's a whole world out there, the world of the future. Then a few years later, I began to figure it out. I began to figure out that, well, yeah, Flash got all the credit, he got the girl, blah, blah, blah, but he didn't make the series go. Who made the series go was Dr. Zarkov, the scientist. He was the one who invented the starship. He invented the invisibility shield. He was the one who kept the whole series going with his inventions. And then I began to realize Dr. Zarkov is a physicist. I didn't know the word. I began to realize that Einstein was a physicist. So you see, physics not only unlocks the secrets of the universe, it also predicts the future. So when people come up to me and say, professor, what has a physicist done for me lately? I tell them, we physicists invent one thing, the future. We invented the transistor, we invented the laser, we invented television, we invented the world wide web. We created the space program, we created the X-ray machine, radar, radio, television, all of that came from the minds of physicists. So I said to myself, that's what I want to do for a living. I want to make sure that I can be part of the future to do what Dr. Zarkov did for Flash Gordon to make the future possible. So that's what we physicists do. We invent the future. I think one of your daughters became neuroscientists. That's right, she's a brain scientist. So how did you keep that spark alive in her? And I asked this from the perspective of, there's going to be parents watching this that have, let's say their kids are in that exact moment, they're 10, 11, 12, they're about to have it crushed out of them. What were things that you did with your kids to really internalize that the narrative of the systems and the concepts and the process versus the memorization?
Stop Mindlessly Memorizing, Science is WHY (11:02)
Well, I get a chance to interview a lot of scientists for BBC and the Discovery Channel and my own national radio show. And the first question that I always ask every single scientist is, what happened when you were a kid? And they always say the same thing. They always start off with, when I was 10 years old, that's when the magic happened. It was a telescope. It was a microscope. It was a visit to the planetarium. It was seeing the moon for the first time in a telescope. It was a journey that they went into, and it changed their life. And even when you're old and elderly and you're a senior scientist, you always go back to that moment. It's like a well. You draw water from that well forever. It energizes you. It activates you because you still remember being a child. So with my kids, when they hit 10, I wanted to make sure that we went to as many planetarium shows, got telescopes and things like that. Even when they said, dad, again, another planetarium visit, another telescope, because I wanted to get them to feel that there was wonderment in the world. I wanted them to be part of being able to influence things, to be able to change things, because they know how the world works. And so what are some key things if somebody wants to really study and understand?
The 1 Psychological Test that Determines Your Success (12:33)
Where would you have them start? Is it physics? Is it cosmology? Is it biology? I mean, you've done so much research on the brain yourself. And you really are a polymath. Like when I look at all the things that you've just written about, let alone the things you can talk about, it's pretty extraordinary. So where do you have people start? Well, when you look at children and you look at all the different theories about what makes successful kids, you realize almost all the theories are wrong, because they haven't been verified. Like, for example, high IQ. You have a lot of high IQ people who become marginal members of society. And so what is the one psychological test that correlates with success in life? And I found out that it's the Marshmallow Test. It's the test that has survived every challenge. You track students for 30 years in different countries, and you find that they are more successful. They have a lower divorce rate, higher income, higher status in society. So what is this Marshmallow Test? You get kids and ask them, do you want a Marshmallow now? Or two Marshmallows a few hours from now? And the kids that want the Marshmallow now tend to be those that want shortcuts. Those that don't want to do the hard work, they want the quick kill. They grab that Marshmallow. But the other ones say, no, wait a minute.
Can Grit Be Taught (14:03)
If I wait two hours, I can get two Marshmallows. I can hold out. There's a pot of gold waiting for me. They're not going to take the shortcut. And so you say to yourself, well, that's a test for kids. But then you track them decade by decade by decade. And then you find out, oh my god, these are the ones who go to college, the ones who hold out for that advanced degree that don't want that simple payoff now, but are going to delay gratification into the future. And so I realized that that's the key to success in life, not just science, but in life. Don't take the shortcuts. The thing that terrifies me about the Marshmallow study, and I was blown away by it just like you, is how young the kids are when they start testing them. Do you think, so all shorthand it to grit, I don't know if you've read that book by Angela Duckworth or not, incredible book. And she talks about that exact thing, the Marshmallow test, delaying gratification, the ability to, like they use all the tactics and stuff, some kids get up and sing, they like put their head down, they count, they like do anything they can to distract themselves. And so she said basically finding these tools and tactics to delay something she calls grit. And I will totally agree that grit seems the thing most correlated to future success, but can it be taught? - Well, part of it is your personality that is formed when you're very young, okay. Let's be very clear about that. But I think that yes, I think that, for example, it turns out that if you do the same thing with poor children and the same thing with middle class children, it turns out that poor children will, on general, go for the quick kill because they know that things disappear real fast. If there's money in the house, it's gone in the future. So they learn something. And so one of the reasons why poor kids will offer the Marshmallow now is because things disappear, people steal it, people grab it and run away with it and there you are with nothing. Take it now, that's their attitude. And they learn that. And other people can realize they're going to college. Gee, there are occupations out there that give you a good income. If you can show people that there is a pot of gold out there that yes, you hold out, you go to college, you'll learn the discipline, there's a pot of gold out there. You can learn to appreciate that fact. And I think, when I think about Einstein, he spent the last 30 years of his life chasing after the theory of everything. He spent 10 years of his life chasing after what we now call relativity. When Einstein was 16 years old, 16 years old, he asked himself a simple question, "Can you out race a light beam?" It took him 10 years to solve that problem. When he was 26 years old, he figured it all out and that was relativity. And that changed the entire world. So talk about a marshmallow. Here's a man who said he's going to spend 10 years of his life answering a question, "Can you out race a light beam?" And the answer is no. The speed of light is the ultimate velocity in the universe. Einstein is the cop on the block. So here's a man who really held out for that marshmallow. - You've talked really powerfully about what ended up letting Einstein down and that was, so in the beginning he had these images. He could imagine himself riding on a light beam and so he could imagine what it would need to be as you turn it on that it would have to continue. And that the reason he wasn't able to find the theory of everything was he didn't have an image for it. And in my own life, I will say very clearly my life is demarcated into before I had a governing metaphor for my life, which I use the movie The Matrix. So the movie The Matrix to me is such an awesome representation of the human experience. So whatever you believe, that's going to be the limit of what you can't achieve. And if you can allow yourself to believe something other people think is impossible, then you're going to be able to get there. Do you have, as you pursue the theory of everything, do you have an image in mind that you think is going to crack that wide open for you? - Well, you're absolutely right. When Einstein got relativity, he didn't do it using pure mathematics. One of my favorite Einstein quotes is when he talked to children, he said to children, "No matter how much difficulty you have with mathematics, mind, we're worse." So what was it that drove Einstein? It was a picture. He had a picture of himself being 16 years old, running neck and neck with a light beam. What would it look like if you could race right next to it? And then when he got general relativity, he had another picture that is like a trampoline net, gravity being nothing but the bending of space and time as a fabric. But on his third try, that is to get a theory of everything he failed because he had no picture. And my other favorite Einstein quote is, "Unless you can explain something to a child as a picture, the theory is probably worthless."
Can You Explain Something to a Child in a Picture (18:58)
- You've also given a really cool picture of Newtonian physics that is certainly was new for me. I'd never heard it before, where you said to clear your head and think you like to go ice skate. And you said that in that moment, in fact, why is ice skating so profound for you as it relates to Newtonian physics? - You know, we've been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but we never came up with the laws of motion because things bump into each other, this friction is complicated the way things move. But on an ice skating rink is pure, it's pristine. All the secondary frictions are eliminated and that's the arena of Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton's three laws of motion are steering you right in the face. Every time you go ice skating. So I'm not sure of Newton ice skating, but on an ice skating rink, everything is washed clear. You clearly see the physical laws of motion. And that's why when Einstein comes along and goes beyond Isaac Newton, Einstein starts with clocks, rockets, meters six. So he starts with things that you can see and touch, a physical picture. And so all great ideas come from a picture. For Newton, it was this arena. You know, Shakespeare said that we're all actors on a stage. We make our entrances and exits. We're all actors on the stage of life. That's the Newtonian idea, that the stage of life is static and we make our entrances and exits. That's a Newtonian idea. Einstein comes along and says not so fast. The stage is warped.
Gravity explained (20:44)
The stage can have trap doors. When you walk along the stage of life, you think there's a force moving you left and right because the stage is uneven. That's the theory of gravity. So all of it can be explained in this very simple arena. Now with strength theory, we think there could be trap doors in the stage of life, wormholes. We think there could be all sorts of bizarre things that don't exist in the ordinary Newtonian idea. And that gets us into cosmology in the Big Bang. So we see that all great ideas come from very simple physical pictures. - Dude, what you're chasing is so incredible.
Michios Process (21:20)
And I hope that people watching don't go, oh man, the theory of everything in physics, I can never do that and put it on the shelf. What I hope they're hearing is here we've got somebody who when they were eight, they were inspired by a grand vision. They've been pursuing that grand vision. I think what would be really helpful for them is to understand what is your process. So for instance, while my vision for what I'm trying to do with my life pales in comparison to a theory of the universe, for me to approach it, I meditate, I write, and that lets me hear my subconscious, right? So I'm able to hear those little whispers of maybe this, maybe that, maybe you should go explore this, run this test, try that. So I do that and then I make lists so that I can see how one thing feeds into the next, feeds into the next. What is your process? Like when you say, I'm trying to find the sphere of everything, what are you actually doing? And maybe asking it in a more concrete way. So when you go back to your lab and you're like, okay, now's my time to really think about progressing string theory, what is that act? Is it imagining playing the strings and creating a universe from that? Is it a meditative practice? Is it math? - The way we come up with great ideas is the way that musicians come up with musical pieces. If you were to film a musician in the process of creating a great work of art, for the most part they would stare out the window. Melodies, fragments, fragments of melodies playing their head, until some of these melodies begin to coalesce and then you go to a piano, plunk out some notes, and then you go back to looking out the window and is the piano playing this, is that math? So now transpose this to the world of physics. When I look outside, I see equations. I've memorized all the equations of string theory. I see all these equations floating, floating just like fragments of melodies. And then I try to piece them together and see whether they fit, no, they don't fit together, this one fits together, but then you gotta do the math. Then I get with a sheet of paper, just like a composer gets a piano, a sheet of paper, I gotta crank out all the tedious details. And then I go back to staring out the window. Now, if I was an experimentalist, I would never be able to travel, write books, do interviews, because if my vacuum pump breaks, I gotta race back to the laboratory. I'm a theoretician, just like a composer. I play with melodies called equations in my head. That's how we work.
Michio on IQ (24:00)
- You talked earlier about IQ, and as I listened to you talk, it is very tempting to say, wow, IQ just allows you access to something that I don't have access to. I can't hold the multiplication tables in my head, let alone string theory. So how much of an impact do you think that had on your life? How much of it is just brute intelligence, and how much of it is tenacity or just passion? - Well, in my book, "The Future of the Mind," I had to ask that exact question. We physicists are now probing the thought processes of the human brain. We wanna know what is mental illness. We wanna know what is schizophrenia, why does the brain go crazy, and what is the creative process, and what is intelligence? And what we find out is that when we compare ourselves to animals, we realize that our human brain really is different from the animals. First of all, we have alligators. Alligators understand space. Very good understanding of space. They find prey, they find mates. They know where they are in terms of space. Then you have monkeys, and then you have mice, and then you have dogs. They're social animals. They have not just spatial hierarchy, they have social hierarchy. They know who's the top dog, they know how to defer to other members of the tribe. That's social consciousness. Then what do we have? If animals like alligators have spatial consciousness, if dogs have social consciousness, what kind of consciousness do we have? And I did some research on it, and I found out that what we have in the brain that is different from animals is, we understand time. We understand the future. We constantly daydream, we scheme, we plot. We constantly think about what could be. Now let's do an experiment. Go home tonight and teach your dog the concept of tomorrow. Try it. I don't like my dog. Teach your dog the concept of tomorrow. The next week, the next year. And you realize you can't. Animals live in the present. And that's what I think intelligence is. Intelligence is being able to map the future, simulate the future. So if you get an experiment of people with low IQ and high IQ, put them in the same room, and you give them the same job, rob a bank. You'll find out that the low IQ people will probably do a much better job of robbing a bank, plodding the bank robbery, then high IQ people who get all messed up with legal implications and stuff like that. The point is that you can have some very smart robbers because they see the future. And that's what we humans do that animals cannot. We constantly daydream. We constantly create worlds that don't exist. Animals live in worlds that do exist, that is the present. They don't live in the past. They have almost no memory to speak of. Animals have very little memory. They have some, but very minimal. We, on the other hand, we obsess with memory and we obsess with the future. And to me, that's what intelligence is. The ability to see the future, to simulate the future in complex, realistic ways. - So setting aside IQ for a second, if you had to identify what in your life has been the personality trait that has helped you the most, what trait would you put your finger on?
The personality trait he has that has helped him the most (27:15)
- See, that's tough. Well, Aristotle once said that all of man's problems stem from the fact that he cannot sit in a chair still for hours. In other words, we get distracted. How many of us can sit in a chair and single-mindedly work out one problem? No, after a few minutes, we begin to get fidgety. We wanna turn down the TV set, then listen to music or whatever. But yeah, Aristotle said all of men's problems can be, can stem from the fact that we get distracted. So I think one of the things I teach my kids is, when I teach physics to students, I teach them that you have to have butt power. You have to have the ability to sit down, 'cause is what I tell the kids. Sit down, work on a physics problem till blood comes out of your forehead. You see, we have no gene for physics. There's no gene for science. We have a gene for gossip, we have a gene for superstition, we have a gene for jumping to conclusions and making fools of ourselves. We have no gene for science. Science is an acquired taste. There's no gene for it. Therefore, when I teach kids how to become a scientist, yeah, you gotta sit down and have butt power. You gotta sit down and in a quiet room with a book and sweat blood sometimes. - And was that something that came easily to you? Or did you work? - It's an acquired taste. - And that was all driven. You just had so much interest in passion. - Like broccoli, you have to sit down, grit your teeth and do it. I realized every time I was struggling with all these equations, there was that pot of gold out there. I wanted to understand Einstein. I wanted to understand the quantum theory. I wanted to be the cutting edge of science, even if it meant that I had to not go play outside, I had to sit in my chair and simply crank out the math. You gotta pay your dues. - Yeah, no question. How have you dealt with or have you dealt with self-doubt? Like you've got such a big problem staring you in the face. How do you have the courage every day to just keep going after that? - Well, my fundamental philosophy is, if it's not fun, don't do it. It's gotta be fun because ultimately, that's what keeps you going. This is the problem that I can sink my teeth into. And I would rather work on one big problem and fail that work on lots of little problems and succeed. Einstein said he had no use for physicists who would take a block of wood, take the thinnest part of the block of wood, and drill as many holes as possible in the thinnest part of the block of wood. That's called the Salami principle, taking a simple problem, cutting it up with a lot of pleases, so you have lots of publications that are worthless. - That's really interesting, and I really hope people pay attention to that. You were being interviewed by somebody when I was doing my research, and they were saying that, oh, people have said about Einstein since he spent the last 30 years chasing this solution, and he didn't get it, he should've just taken that time off and gone fishing. And I was like, whoa, that struck me as actually really the opposite of what you would wanna do for that very reason, that if you enjoy the process, then the process is all that matters. So I see this a lot in entrepreneur circles where people, their version of the theory of everything is money, right? They wanna be financially successful. And the hard truth is, the struggle is guaranteed, the success is not. - Right, you see what Einstein did was he set the agenda. Yes, he failed. I can read that book now. I can read the book of Einstein, and I can see all the dead ends. I can see where he went and where he got stuck. I can see these things now. But the fact is, he was a trailblazer. He set the agenda for the next 50 years of physics. And for that, I say to myself, wow. Even when he failed, even when he failed, he set the agenda for modern physics for the next 50 years. And that agenda was unification. That was something that was alien to the world of science, unification. Because science at that point was to try to understand lightning, try to understand heat individually. The idea of a unified theory of all these phenomenon was totally alien to most physicists. So now we understand that that is the mantra. That is the goal, unification. And that we think will unlock some of the deepest secrets of the universe itself. Really interesting.
Exploring Future And Space
The future of humanity (31:55)
It's absolutely astonishing how accessible you make the information. I've read a lot of your books. All incredible. The most recent one, The Future of Humanity, A is just incredibly timely, given what's going on. What made you want to write that book?
Should we fear or welcome the future? (32:10)
And what are some of the big conclusions? Should we fear the future? Be excited. Well, the dinosaurs did not have a space program. That's why they're not here today. By rights, there should be dinosaurs in this room. They rule the world for 200 million years. But there are no dinosaurs here today because an asteroid wiped them out because they didn't have a space program. Imagine that event 65 million years ago. The dinosaurs look up, see this gigantic asteroid headed at them. And they say to themselves, uh-oh, that's the end. Well, they're not here today anymore. But we are. We can decide our own fate. And that's why I think that we should seriously think about the space program again. Because prices are dropping like a rock. You realize the movie The Martian with Matt Damon? Great movie The Martian, right? That movie costs 100 million dollars. But the Indians put a space probe on Mars for 70 million dollars. You realize that a Hollywood movie about Mars costs more than an actual space probe that goes to Mars. They had a given Oscar for the best supporting spacecraft. So that's how cheap things have become. Now NASA used to be criticized as the agency to nowhere. It boldly goes where everyone has gone before. People were bored with NASA. There was no sputnik moment. There was no event that galvanized young people. Then just last month, the Falcon Heavy lifted up Cape Canaveral and millions of people watched it on television. Why did this one event galvanize millions of people? Because that rocket, the Falcon Heavy by Elon Musk, was a moon rocket for the first time in 50 years. We have launched a moon rocket from Cape Canaveral. And how much did it cost as taxpayers? Zero. Think about that. We got a moon rocket for free. And he wants to go to the moon. And then now he wants to go to Mars. Mars with an even bigger rocket called the BFR. B for big, R for rocket, and F is your imagination. For free he's doing it. So this is a new age, a new age of space travel. Now, I was reading about Elon Musk. But he was a kid. He read the same book that I read. And that was Azimoth's foundation series about a galactic empire. From that, he took the idea that we should become a multi-planet species. And I've heard that so often. Carl Sagan told me that we should be a two-planet species because we live in the middle of a cosmic shooting gallery. One day we took it say, "Uh-oh!" When that asteroid comes barreling from outer space, we need an insurance policy. We need a backup plan. And that's where the space program comes in today. It's cheaper than before. And when we go out there, perhaps we'll encounter other intelligent life forms in the universe. We've just barely scratched our understanding of the universe. So why now?
The rocket race! (35:31)
Did you write this book now to help people see a positive vision for the future? Because the book, I would say, is undeniably positive. Because things are changing. The price of rockets, it used to cost $10,000 to put a pound of anything into orbit. That's your weight in gold. Think of your body made of solid gold. That's what it costs to put you just in an orbit around the planet Earth. Now prices are dropping by a factor of 10. And so it means that space is going to open up. It's going to open up to entrepreneurs. In fact, the next entrepreneur to jump into the game is the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos. He has endowed his entire space port in Texas. And he wants to go to the moon. And he wants to set up an Amazon delivery system to the moon. So if you're a national on the moon, he wants to order a book from Amazon. There's a rocket that will take off from Texas and give you your book on the moon. So billionaires are jumping in. Google is jumping in now. Google billionaires are backing a plan to mine the asteroid belt. And so we have Tesla Motors building us a moon rocket and a Mars rocket. We have Amazon pioneering a delivery system to the moon. We have Google thinking about building rockets that can rope an asteroid, bring the asteroid back to Earth to mine for wear minerals. It's a new ball game. It's just totally new. Who would have thought during the '60s that private individuals could do this? That's how cheap things have become.
Inspire People to Explore Space (37:12)
What do you hope comes out of people reading your book? Like what's your fantasy? Would it inspire a nation of space going people? Is it to get more people excited about STEM, to get in and become the scientists that are creating the next generation of technology? Well, you know, right now there's a national debate about jobs, national debate. People are hurting right now. And where do jobs come from? Where does prosperity come from? First of all, if you talk to a lawyer, a lawyer would say that prosperity and money comes from lawsuits. You sue Peter to pay Paul. I'm a scientist. We say that wealth, all this wealth we see around us comes from science and technology. From the STEAM revolution, which gave us the Industrial Revolution and Machines, to the electric revolution, which gave us dynamos and television radio, to the high tech revolution of today, we've had three waves of wealth generation from science and physics and technologies. Now we're entering the fourth wave, artificial intelligence, biotech and nanotech. These are going to be the drivers of wealth generation. So I tell young people, if you want a job of the future, go with the wave, the fourth wave beyond STEAM power, electricity and computers. The fourth wave is artificial intelligence, nanotech and biotech. That's where the jobs are going to be. So I know you've said that you wouldn't be one of the early Mars settlers, but what do you think are the realistic timelines for terraforming Mars and actually sending a thriving colony there? Well, let's take a look at the timeline. NASA has published it now. We're going back to the moon next year. Think about that. After a 50-year gap next year, December 2019, we're going to send an unmanned Orion Space capsule right around the moon. Four years after that, 2023, we're back to the moon with astronauts. Now it takes three days to go to the moon. Three days to come back, you could do it in one week. I formally believe that our grandkids will honeymoon on the moon. Three days instead of simply waxing eloquent about the moon at night, honey, why not visit the moon? It's going to be that cheap and that close to us. And then by 2030, the first settlements will go to Mars. And so 2030 is about the earliest we can conceive of to go to Mars. And I think the first settlers are going to be pretty hardy people. They're going to be pilots. They're going to be daredevils. You're going to be pretty rugged to withstand the journey to Mars and to begin to create a settlement. So as you look out and as we terraform Mars, start having a base of people that live there, what is really exciting for you? Is it sending the postage size spaceships into deep space into Alpha Centauri?
Contact with Extraterrestrials (40:12)
Is it the Van Neumann probe? Am I saying that right? Where they self-replicate and they take over what actually in those possible scenarios is exciting for you? Well I'm a physicist. So I think that yes, we should go to Mars because we need an insurance policy. We don't want to bankrupt the earth. We don't want to ignore global warming and problems of the earth. But yeah, a settlement insurance policy. But as a physicist, I would like to make contact with intelligent life in the universe because we're going to have starships, Stephen Hawking talked about shooting chips energized by laser beams to 20% the speed of light that will reach the nearby stars. The first starships could be this big energized by laser beams and maybe we'll make contact with alien civilizations in space. Now a lot of people email me and say to me, Professor, this is old hat. I've been abducted by flying saucers. I know the aliens are out there because I've been on their spacecraft. So I tell these people, the next time you get kidnapped by aliens from out of space, steal something. I don't care what it is, an alien paperweight, an alien paperclip, an alien pencil, steal something so you have bragging rights afterwards. And remember, there's no law against stealing from an extraterrestrial. Really fast, run the math force. I heard you walk through once, like just in our own galaxy, how many earth like in the Goldilocks own liquid water, the whole nine planets there might be, let alone the entire universe. Right, believe it or not, we scientists have identified 4,000 planets going around other stars, which means we now have a census, the first census of the galaxy itself. When you go outside tonight and look at the stars, on average, every single star has a planet going around it. Let me repeat, on average, every single star you see at night has a planet. So when you go out tonight, realize that somebody could be looking back at you, wondering is there any intelligent life on the earth. Think about that. The galaxy could be teeming with civilizations. Now earth like planets are a little bit more rare, but we estimate there could be several billion, several billion earth like planets in our own backyard. Now most of them perhaps either have no life on them or microbial life, but a fraction of them could eventually have life in the oceans, which could eventually have evolution giving rise to something that looks like us. So you can't rule it out that advanced civilizations could be out there that even more advanced than us. So given that the math checks out pretty well and that we may not only find life in the universe but find life in our own backyard, assuming that they were at least a thousand years more advanced than us and they were willing to talk, which I know you've said is probably not the case, but let's just pretend for a second they were willing to talk and you could only ask them one question. What would you ask? Well first of all, if you're walking down a country road in the forest and you meet a squirrel or a deer, do you try to talk to the deer and try to have a conversation with the squirrel? Well maybe at first, but eventually you get bored because they don't talk back to you. Well if an alien civilization that advance can come to our earth, then we are like squirrels to them. We're like deer. We have nothing to offer them. We think we're so great that they're going to want to come thousands of light years to land on the White House lawn and give us the benefits of all their technology. Just like me being an ant hill and you go down to the ants and say, "I bring you trinkets. I bring you beads. I give you nuclear energy. Take me to your ant queen." Or maybe you have this politically incorrect urge to step on a few of them. So first of all, I think that for the most part they're going to leave us alone. But if I had a chance to ask them one question, I would ask them, "Well, what does it all mean? Is there this fabled one inch equation that would allow us to understand the thoughts of God? Is there just one comprehensive theory? What does it all mean? Is there a God equation out there that allows to make sense of this great universe of ours?" And just for my own curiosity, if they said there was and will tell you if you want, but you could discover it yourself. Would you rather go discover it or would you rather they tell you and shave some number of years off? Yeah, I guess I would rather do it myself. Or we humans would have to say to ourselves, "Okay, yeah, we got to do it because it's too easy. It's too easy if somebody gives us a platter with the equation there." Some people ask me, "Well, what is the meaning of life then?" And I say to myself that if somebody gives you from up high the meaning of life, it's too easy. I mean, is that all? Somebody gives you the meaning of life from the heavens. My attitude is that it's self-discovery. We have to reinvent ourselves. That the meaning of life is rediscovery. That we have to recreate ourselves rather than have it given to us from the celestial being in outer space. I love that.
Where You Can Find Michio Kaku Online (45:45)
All right, before I ask my last question, where can these guys find you online? Well, I have a website, mcaku.org. My Facebook site, we hit 3 million fans on Facebook. That's really amazing. So, my final question is, what's the impact that you want to have on the world? Well, I think we are headed for a Type 1 civilization. But right now, we are Type 0. A Type 1 civilization is planetary. They have a planet, they can control the weather. They harness planetary forces. We are Type 0. We're fragmented. We just came from the swamp a few centuries ago. We're racked by sectarianism, fundamentalism, religion, all these different kinds of factional struggles. But we are about 100 years away from becoming Type 1 planetary. And a few thousand years from becoming Type 2, which is stellar, having the power of a star like Star Trek. Star Trek would be a typical Type 2 civilization. A Type 3 civilization would be like Star Wars, galactic, roaming the galactic space lanes. Now, we are Type 0. But we're on the verge of becoming Type 1 planetary. So I would like to help in this endeavor. I would like to help the transition from Type 0 to Type 1. We see evidence of this everywhere we look. What is the internet? The internet is the first Type 1 telephone system. The first Type 1 technology to land in our lap. Already it's causing democracy to spread around the world because people that are cut off impoverished, they can get on the web. They can have their voices heard. And democracies do not war with other democracies. Think of every war that was fought that you memorized in grade school, every single war. They've been between kings, queens, emperors, dictatorships, but never between two major democracies. So the transition from Type 0 to Type 1 is a democratic transition. It's a transition of empowerment. People are going to be energized because their voice is going to be heard around the world. So I would like my contribution to help to accelerate and to smooth out the bumps of this grand transition, the greatest transition in our civilization from Type 0 to Type 1. I love that.
Closing Remarks (48:14)
Dr. Karky, thank you so much for being on this show. That's incredible. Guys, guys, guys, when I say that you're going to want to dive into this man's world, read all of his books, listen to the just myriad shows that he puts out there, the amount of energy that he's put into bringing to the world the optimism that he's cultivated over a lifetime, to sharing that excitement when he was a kid that's been the well that he's drawn from his whole life. He gives so freely of that and tries to get as many other people excited about that as humanly possible. His most recent book, The Future of Humanity is absolutely breathtaking in its scope and what it covers, but most importantly, in the way that it will hopefully encourage other people to see that beautiful future, to help bring it into actually being. And it is incredible when somebody as accomplished as he is with the just brain power that he has, instead of just staring out the window for his entire career, does that? But also, spends time engaging with other people and trying to make sure that everybody has somebody that believes in them that's trying to show them the beauty in science, that's trying to give back, that's trying to give people excited so that we can together build a better world. I will forever be grateful to him for that, something that I have not told him. One of, if not the very first Audible book I ever read was his and I've had a long standing relationship with his information and it is one of the reasons that I am a techno optimist to my absolute core. So I hope that you guys will have a similar response to somebody who has given so freely of himself as I have. It's been incredible. I am eternally grateful and I think that you guys will be as well. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends, be legendary.
Take care. Thank you. Thank you for being so good. Hey everybody, thank you so much for watching and being a part of this community. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. You're going to get weekly videos on building a growth mindset, cultivating grit and unlocking your full potential.