Michio Kaku

March 7, 2014

I'm Dr. Michio Kaku: a physicist, co founder of string field theory and bestselling author. I can tell you about the future of your mind, AMA

I'm a Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center, a leader in the field of theoretical physics, and co-founder of string field theory.

Proof: https://twitter.com/michiokaku/status/441642068008779776

My latest book THE FUTURE OF THE MIND is available now: http://smarturl.it/FutureOfTheMindAMA

UPDATE: Thank you so much for your time and questions, and for helping make The Future of the Mind a best seller.

[No question]

Once again, my colleague Stephen Hawking has upset the apple cart. The event horizon surrounding a black hole was once though to be an imaginary sphere. But recent theories indicate that it may actually be physical, maybe even a sphere of fire. But I don't trust any of these calculations until we have a full-blown string theory calculation, since Einstein's theory by itself is incomplete.

Dr. Kaku, I'm a 21 year old Asian-American and my hair is starting to turn silver... Do you think my hair will become as awesome as yours?

The key is to choose your parents well.

Hey Michio. Big fan of yours. Read all of your books and am currently reading your newest The Future of the Mind. I just got it a day ago.

Of all the things you have covered, what are you looking forward to the most that you expect to happen within the next 20 years?

There are so many wonders awaiting us. If we can upload memories, then we might be able to combat Alzheimers, as well as create a brain-net of memories and emotions to replace the internet, which would revolutionize entertainment, the economy, and our way of life. Maybe even to help us live forever, and send consciousness into outer space.

Of all the things you have covered, what are you looking forward to the most that you expect to happen within the next 20 years

I'm curious about this as well. I think speculating 50+ years is a bit of a stretch as far as plausibility goes, but what sort of advancements in physics and cosmology do you see happening over the next 10-20 years?

In the coming decades, I hope we find evidence of dark matter in the lab and in outer space. This would go a long way to proving the correctness of string theory, which is what I do for a living. That is my day job. So string theory is a potentially experimentally verifiable theory.

Hello Dr. Kaku! Love the book Physics of the Impossible. It really inspired me so thank you for that!

My question: What is your take on the theory that electrons can surpass large distances via tiny wormholes to support quantum entanglement?

i believe I'm using the right terminology...

Combining quantum entanglement with wormholes yields mind boggling results about black holes. But I don't trust them until we have a theory of everything which can combine quantum effects with general relativity. i.e. we need to have a full blown string theory resolve this sticky question.

Hi Dr Kaku, I just want to start by saying you're the reason I got into Physics. I was bought Hyperspace for my birthday when I was 16 and absolutely loved it. I'm currently in my second year of University studying Physics.

My question is how have you seen the attitudes of the Scientific Community change since the discovery of the Higgs Boson? Do you think that funding towards curiosity driven research, such as CERN, will receive more funding in the future as a result also?

I would hope that the publicity around the Higgs boson would increase the public awareness of physics and cosmology. The next big accelerator might be the ILC in Japan, a linear collider which might be able to probe the boundaries of string theory. So we physicists have to learn how to engage the public so that taxpayers money is used to explore the nature of the universe.

If an alien spaceship lands in my backyard, what should my first message to them be?

Chances are, the aliens will not want to land on our backyard, or even the White House lawn, with their flying saucers. They may have tiny, robotic self-replicating probes which can reach near light speed and can proliferate around the galaxy. So instead of the Enterprise and huge star ships, the aliens might actually send tiny probes to explore the universe. One might land on our lawn and we won't even know.

Do you believe we will eventually find some form of life in our own solar system? Such as on Mars or Europa?

Our best shot at finding life in our solar system might be to look at the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Mars, increasingly, looks like a dead planet. But the oceans beneath the ice cover of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn may actually have more liquid water than the oceans of Earth.

What's your perspective on the role spirituality plays in the human mind? Do you talk about this in your recent book?

I think the human mind has a desire to know its place in the universe and the role we play in the tapestry of life. I think this is actually hardwired into our brains, the desire the know our relationship to the universe. I think this was good for our evolution, since it enabled us to see our relationship to others and to nature which was good for our survival. And it is also what drives our curiosity to understand the universe.

First of all hows your figure skating going? Secondly I would like to know when do you think we'll have the ability to make real hover boards just like back to the future?

Yes, I am a figure skater, which helps me appreciate Newton's theory of mechanics. Its also how I met my wife. But hover boards, unfortunately, currently violate the laws of physics. Supermagnets exist, but they have to be cooled to near absolute zero, and they are extremely expensive. So Michael J. Fox's hover boards are not possible until we invent room temperature super conductors.

Hello there Dr. Kaku! I remember watching a documentary you made for the BBC on extending life expectancy in humans - do you still follow recent advances in this field and if so, can you tell us what excites you most recently in this particular area?

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

We are slowly isolating the genes involved with the aging process. We do not have the fountain of youth, but I think, in the coming decades, we will unravel the aging process at the genetic level. For example, we share 98.5% of our genes with the chimps, yet we live twice as long.

We will find these genes very soon that doubled our life span. However, I don't the current generation will be able to slow and stop aging. Our grand kids, however, may have a shot at it.

Awesome. My wife and I look forward to seeing you in Dayton in a couple weeks!

She's obsessed with your lectures on youtube and I'm still new to that area of science. If there was one lecture to not miss, what would it be?

One of my favorite videos I did on Youtube, for BBC TV, was the four hour series I hosted about Time. We covered the psychological nature of time, geologic time, stopping time, and cosmological time.

Hey Michio, what is the one thing that blows your mind more than anything else?

The idea that excites me the most concerns the two greatest puzzles in science: the origin of the universe, and the origin of consciousness. The origin of the universe is what I do for a living, working on string theory. But I am also fascinated by consciousness. Being a physicist, not a philosopher, I have devised an entirely new theory of consciousness, allowing one to numerically calculate the level of consciounsess of humans and even animals. Its all in my new book.

Dr. Kaku, What is your opinion of the COMETA Report, which concludes that there have been verifiable reports of UFOs making maneuvers and movements that are unexplainable by our scientific standards? The COMETA Report also offers the hypothesis that those UFOs most likely have an extraterrestrial origin.

Is this study flawed, or does it have real merit? And what is your personal opinion about UFOs?

I get lots of UFO reports in my email. 95% of them can be easily dismissed as meteors, swamp gas, radar echoes, the planet Venus. However, the remaining handful of UFO sightings take your breath away. The hardest to explain are the ones recorded by multiple witnesses using multiple modes, e.g. UFOs seen near airplanes, tracked by radar and by eyewitnesses.

Hi Dr. Kaku, If electrons and protons have mass they cannot travel at the velocity of light. This would mean that there must be three event horizons. (a) The electro-magnetic event horizon. (b) The electron - positron event horizon (c) The proton - anti-proton event horizon. Is this valid?

An event horizon, or the point of no return, is only a byproduct of the bending of space. However, electricity and magnetism, by themselves, have no event horizon. It gets complicated, however, if a black hole has charge, and then this new solution does have an event horizon.

Hello Dr.Kaku, when you think the mind will be part of our electronics as everyday thing? and how?

I think, in the coming years, we will have a brain pacemaker that can stimulate the memory of people with Alzheimers disease. They will be able to upload simple memories of who they are and where they live. Beyond that, we will be able to use electronics to upload vacations we never had, perhaps. And the internet itself will be a brain-net of emotions and memories.

Dr. Kaku,

My husband and I are big fans of you and your work. We'll just be driving somewhere and start a layman's discussion on quantum theory/physics.

Just fangirling it out I guess! I do have one silly question, how would one get an autograph?

Keep up the awesome work!


The easiest way is to go to the cities where I have my book tour. I've been to Boston, Chicago, SF, Berkeley, Seattle, Denver. Next is LA, Kansas City, Dayton, Youngstown, Jacksonville. Go to my website mkaku.org for more.

What do you think the best theories are for dark energy and dark matter?

The best theory comes from string theory, which states that dark matter is nothing but a higher vibration of the string. We are, in some sense, the lowest octave of a vibrating string. The next octave is dark matter. However, one new theory says that dark matter may be ordinary matter in a parallel universe. If a galaxy is hovering above in another dimension, we would not be able to see it. It would be invisible, yet we would feel its gravity. Hence, it might explain dark matter.

What is your newest theory that you have been working on?

Right now, I am working on M theory, the highest version of string theory, which works in 11 dimensions, not 10 dimensions. However, we have no over all field theory in 11 dimensions. String field theory, which I helped to create, only works in 10 dimensions. I am looking finding the quantum field theory behind M theory in 11 dimensions.

What is your current stance or belief on how our universe came into existence? Before the Big Bang there was nothing? A white hole (or something like a white hole) from another universe created the Big Bang? Another universe split and our universe was born? Or our universe expands and then contracts and expands again? Thank you...

One theory is that the universe came from nothing. i.e. perhaps bubble-universes collided, as in a bubble bath, and gave birth to the universe. Or perhaps the big bang was created by a bubble-universe which split into two universes. The universe does seem to be compatible with nothing. For example, the rotation of the universe seems to be zero. The total charge of the universe is zero. And the total energy + matter is also zero, if we add the positive energy of stars and the negative energy of gravity.

If I can make it 50 more years, will we be able to slice up my brain and cram my consciousness into a machine? That'd be swell.

By midcentury, we may have Brain 2.0, a backup copy of the brain, the byproduct of the ambitious BRAIN project of Pres. Obama and the European Union. Hence, when we die, our Connectome and Genome still survive. So our consciousness does not have to die when we die. And this consciousness, I write, may be placed on laser beams and sent into outer space. This might be the most efficient way to explore the universe, as laser beams carrying our consciousness into outer space.

Hey Michio, big fan here. I attended your book talk at the University of Minnesota for your previous book "Physics of the Future." Two questions for you today. First and foremost, when are you coming back to talk about "The Future of the Mind"? Second, what is the most startling discovery on the topic of the mind you have been a part of?

The new book has many surprising breakthroughs, such as exoskeletons controlled by the mind, uploading memories, telepathy, and telekinesis. But one thing which caught me off guard was the photographing a dream. I saw some of the first, very crude, pictures of a dream, but one day we might push the play button and see the dream we had last night.

In terms of our current technology how long would it take for us to make a usable lightsaber.

In my TV show, Sci Fi Science, I actually design a light sabre, using modern physics. We basic ingredients will be available son. However, the bottle neck is a portable power pack. That is the problem with jet packs, ray guns, and light sabres.

Dear Dr. Kaku, I am 15 and a sophomore in high school and I really really want to be a physicist. I’ve always wanted to invent something or discover something new but it is not really a job that you can live off of. So I am going to be an engineer, maybe nuclear (I haven’t decided yet), but I want to be a physicist in my spare time. I am trying as hard as I can to keep my grades high and one day become the next most scientifically influential person of the century just like you. I might not have the resources but I sure have the enthusiasm. I’ve watched many many documentaries with you in it and I am going to get your new book soon. You have influenced my life greatly. Thank you for contributing for human history. Sincerely, Arthur

Thanks for the kind words. On my web site, mkaku.org, i have an essay So You Want to Become a Physicist, which gives some solid advice to young people who want to pursue a career in physics. Remember, in a time of unemployment, there are plenty of jobs that cannot be filled. But these jobs require more of a technical background, that physics can provide.

What do you think the timeframe is for Humans establishing a permanent colony on a celestial body besides Earth?

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..

Any advice you can give to a student of science in collage?

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.

Dr. Kaku,

I don't have a question, just wanted to tell you what an influence you were on me. When I was interning for music business at 19 years old, I bought your book Hyperspace from the museum of science in new York. I had no goddamn idea what I was reading, and it made my head spin. That had the effect of setting forward my relentless pursuit of knowledge. Because of you, I've learned non stop over the last 10 years and continue to do so. Thank you.

Thank you. When I was a kid, I used to go to the library to learn about antimatter, the fourth dimension, relativity, star ships, etc. And I found nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I vowed that when I become a research active theoretical physicist, I would write books that I would have liked to have read as a kid.

Hi Dr. Kaku!

Do you really think that it MUST take on the order of 50,000 to 1,000,000 years to become a Type 1 civilization? Do you think that perhaps that the civilization types can be broken down more granularly into sub-types? What do you think of NASA's latest push to evaluate the Alcubierre Drive?

I think we are 100 years away from being a Type I civilization. This will be one of the greatest transitions in human history. But it might take 100 years to build the first star ship. But warp drive, I fear, may be centuries away.

Hover-boards. When?

Hover boards require room temperature super conductors, which don't yet exist. So far, the have to be cooled down to liquid nitrogen temperatures.

Hello Dr.Kaku,

What do you personally think of Crop Circles ? Do you think they are natural phenomenon, or possibly sign of extraterrestrial life?


I would like to believe that crop circles are evidence of visitation. But there have been too many people who have admitted to creating these crop circles, and too many people who have shown how to make one on TV programs, so I have my doubts.

Hello Dr. Kaku. As a high school student who would want to study science I would like to know what do you think will be the most interesting areas of science in the near future?

The 20 century was the century of physics, with computers, lasers, TV, radio, GPS, the internet, etc. Physics, in turn, has made possible that can probe biology. So I think the 21st century will be the century of physics and biology, esp. biology that can be explored via physics. So the future belongs to nanotech, biotech, AI, and quantum physics.

Did you see the movie "Her" and what did you think?

I have not seen the movie, but I think its only a matter of time. Today, it is still easy to tell if you are talking to a computer. Computers have no sense of self-awareness, and cannot master common sense very well. But this is a technical question, so I think that, in the coming decades, we will have something like Her.

If you could change one of the laws of Physics, which would you change, what would you change about it, and why would you change it?

If I had my wish, I would like to lessen gravity so that we can easily explore outer space. But I realize, as a physicist, this might also have disastrous unforseen effects. ie. the nature of the earth, the biochemistry, and the physics of our bodies would all change. But still, it would be nice to explore space without huge, expensive booster rockets.

Dr. Kaku - do you think that consciousness is created entirely in the physical matter of the brain or does man possess a soul or some non-physical entity that survives death?

A soul might very well exist, but we, as physicists, try to measure and quantify everything. So far, no one has been able to create an experiment to do this for the soul. Efforts have been made to weigh the body after death, but each time we find no evidence of a soul. So a soul may very well exist, but it is not a testable theory.

Dr. Kaku, you're one of the biggest reasons why I got really interested in astronomy. Thank you so much for that.

I'd like to know what among these do you think will be achieved by Human beings within the next 50 years?

Time travel, Teleportation, Immortality, basic understanding of Dark Matter, Contact with Aliens or a complete understanding of 'infinity'?

Time travel and teleportation will have to wait. It may take centuries to master these technology. 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.

Hey! Didn't think i'd have the time to throw this question here :D

In Stephen Hawkings Documentary about The Big Bang, he states that time itself was created in the Big Bang. That would mean that there was no time before that or that time was infinitely compressed. If the later answer was the case, does this mean that an infinite amount of quantum fluctuation could have taken place in that small area, being the universe. Could it have forced time into existance, by just expanding by creating new particles in a time frame of a passing infinities, passing every second?

Could such a chain give birth to a big bang?

Would be fun with the pro's point of view!

The modern thinking is that time did not start with the big bang, and that there was a multiverse even before the big bang. In the inflation theory, and in string theory, there were universes before our big bang, and that big bangs are happening all the time. Universes are formed when bubbles collide or fission into smaller buble.s

Hello Dr. Kaku from Bulgaria !

Here is my question. In your opinion how close is the human race in finding another civilization in the cosmos ?

No one knows. But we have discovered thousands of planets in our own backyard, the Milky Way galaxy. But even if we receive a message from another planet, it does not mean we can have a conversation. Messages may take decades to go back and forth.

What do you think about Issac Asimov's short story Last Question?

It was Asimov's favorite short story. And mind too. Its about when humans evolve into light beams that can roam across the galaxy, and try to reverse the Big Freeze that is killing the universe. It inspired me to propose that once we have Brain 2.0 on a disk, we sent it into outer space on laser beams, so we can explore the galaxy at the speed of light.

All of the answers must be hidden in the fourth dimension.

We string theorists believe that the answers all lie in an 11 dimensional universe. Our universe, of course, is three dimensional, with time, but it is probably a bubble of some sort floating in a much larger space, the multiverse of universes.

Hi I'm currently in my first year at university studying Physics and firstly I have to thank you for really getting me interested in the subject.

I have two questions,

1.) What is a current development in physics that you think more people should know about?

2.) What do you think is the most important trait for a physicist to have?

In physics, one of the most exciting areas is in nanotech. With computers exhausting the power of silicon, Silicon Valley could become a Rust Belt, unless we can find replacements, such as quantum computers and molecular computers. To be a leader in any field, one has to have a great imagination. Sure, we have to know the basics and fundamentals. But beyond that, we have to let our imagination soar.

Thank you for the AMA, Dr. Kaku! My question: In your opinion, was mathematics discovered or invented?

I think math is discovered. To be invented requires an inventor, but math exists outside of humanity. But ultimately, the laws of the universe will be reduced down to a single equation, perhaps no more than one inch long. But leaves the final question, where did that one inch equation come from?

What is your opinion of the works of Richard Feynman?

Feynman was, in the opinion of Robert Oppenheimer, the best physicist of his generation. However, as he himself wrote, he did not discover a new law of physics. He took known laws (e.g. the quantum field theory of Dirac) and then eliminated all the infinities so that we can actually calculate with them. I think it took a lot of nerve on his part to say this. A lesser physicist would have tried to cover this up.

Will Quantum teleportation ever be able to teleport meaningful data across space instantaneously?

So far, no. Quantum entanglement allows you to send information faster than light, which upset Einstein. But Einstein has the last laugh. The information you send on quantum entanglement is random, useless information. So Einsein still has the last laugh.

I am a huge fan of yours, as is my fiance, Dr. Kaku. I know that you will be coming to Western Kentucky University's campus to speak on March 17th! I'm so excited, but I will not be able to attend, due to work. My question, would you ever consider stopping by Western's library that way two of your biggest fans can meet you, since we will be working at the library?

Yes, I will be passing through Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas soon. I will ask my hosts if there is time to pass by the library to meet you.

Hi, big fan, how do you think the universe will end, or won't end? To you think it will be from the Big Freeze or heat death, the Big Rip, Big Crunch, Big Bounce or do you think we live in a multi-verse with no complete end?

The most likely possibility, favored by current data, is that the universe will die in Ice, not Fire. However, personally I believe that trillions of years from now, we (if we are still around) will have the technology to leave the universe, perhaps in an interdimensional life boat, and move to a warmer universe.

YES!!! Dr. Kaku you make science I cannot understand fun. And that is impressive.

Thank you. My favorite quote from Einstein is: if a theory cannot be explained to a child, then the theory is probably useless. I.e. all great theories can be explained by pictures and simple principles.

Are we going to Europa? Don't you think we're kind of late on exploring that moon, once it seems to be much more promising in terms of alien life?

There is a movie about exploring Europa which quite realistic. It ends with a monster, of course. But I think that, in the coming decades, NASA will send robots, perhaps even a sub, to explore Europa, which is the most promising place to look for life.

Whats you opinion on going to mars ? and try to get colonisation over there ? and how long would it take to get there ?

Thanks for this chance Dr. Michio Kaku i appreciate this chance thanks !


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.

Hey Dr. Kaku, Is there a scientific idea that has been created in fantasy (the force), that actually might be possible in the universe?

The idea of the Force, that the mind can read other minds and move objects, is here today. In my book, I explore all the labs which are experimenting on telepathy, telekinesis, uploading memories, creating avatars and exoskeletons controlled mentally, even photographing a dream.


When I was a kid, I had two role models. The first was Einstein, whose futile search for a theory of everything fascinated me. But I also watched the old Flash Gordon series on TV. I was hooked by all that I saw, e.g. starships, aliens, ray guns, etc. Eventually, I realized that what was driving the entire series was physics. So I saw that my two loves as a child were really the same thing.

Hello, just want to say thank you for doing this I love your work and am myself a first year physics student. But my question is, what is your favorite paradox?

My favorite paradox is the Cat problem. Quantum mechanics says that, to describe a cat, you have to add the wave of a dead cat plus a live cat. Einstein hated this idea. But Einstein was wrong on this one. Today, this paradox drives our lasers, electronics, GPS systems, the internet, etc. Instead of cats being two places at once, we have electrons and photons being two places at once.

Thank you for your book Physics of the Future which was a fascinating read.

Given that this was written several years ago now and that technology is constantly evolving, would you change (or alter) any the projections for the future which you proposed in that?

No. The book is right on schedule. That is because I cheat. I interview all the leading scientists who are inventing the future in their labs. So no wonder my predictions usually come out on top.

We've all heard stories about mothers being able to feel their children across great distances, and twins dealing with the same issue. Do you think that this "intuition" could be the effect of quantum entanglement?

I have known twins who claim that the know what the other twin is doing. However, I think its not a matter of quantum entanglement, which operates on the level of individual electrons. Part of it is: the brain remembers all the "hits" and positive coincidences, and forgets all the misses and negative coincidences.

Dr Kaku. Big fan here. Two questions for you:

  1. What are your thoughts on Holographic Universe theory?
  2. Would you consider going into politics?

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.

Hi, Mr. Kaku. Thanks for doing this AMA. I love your work from what my friend tells me. Could you explain the string theory like I'm five years old? Maybe in a sentence?

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.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Michio Kaku conducted on Reddit on 2014-03-07. The Reddit AMA can be found here.