Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 63 - DR. MICHIO KAKU
THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY— DR. MICHIO KAKU
"I think, within the century, we will receive signals from intelligent life in outer space." —Dr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, futurist
This week on "Science," the hosts welcome special guest, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku! They discuss the recent discovery of 95 extrasolar planets and the existence of intelligent life in the universe. Alien races could be zooming past our world right now and we don't even know it. Also, there is a sneak peek of Dr. Kaku's full interview from this week's podcast. On "The Roast," Dustin and Jeff talk about singing the national anthem and how so many people screw it up. Finally, St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so get a full rundown of everything that will be coming out from Death Wish Coffee on "The Update."
ABOUT DR. MICHIO KAKU:
This week we welcome theoretical physicist, futurist and professor of science Dr. Michio Kaku to the podcast. His newest book "The Future of Humanity" has just come out, and we talk about some of the exciting topics he covers. Dr. Kaku breaks down the timeline of when we are getting to the Moon and Mars and what companies like SpaceX have in store. Plus Bill Farmer, the voice of Disney's Goofy and one of Dr. Kaku's biggest fans, ask questions about quantum mechanics and the age of the universe. Also, hear about how Dr. Kaku got interested in science at a young age and is continuing to get closer to proving Albert Einstein's elusive "Theory of Everything."
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, when I was eight years old, something happened, which changed my whole life. I saw a picture in the newspaper talking about an event. A great scientist had just died. They flashed a picture of his desk. On his desk was a book, the book was unfinished. The caption said something like, "This is the unfinished manuscript from the greatest scientist of our age." So I was fascinated by this story. Why couldn't he finish this theory? What's so hard that the greatest scientist of our time couldn't finish it? I had to know. I went into the library and then started to look up this man, Albert Einstein. I found out the book was the "Theory of Everything." An equation maybe no more than one inch long that would allow us to "read the mind of God." I was hooked. I just had to know. It never occurred to me that you could have a comprehensive theory of all the laws of science in just one equation. Well, today we think we have it. It's called string theory. It hasn't been proven yet. I'm one of the co-founders of this theory, the co-founder of string field theory. String theory says that all the particles we see in nature, the corks, the left-ons, the nutrients, thousands of these particles are nothing but musical notes on a tiny, tiny vibrating string like a rubber band. Then physics is nothing but the harmonies of these vibrating strings. Chemistry is the melodies you can play on these strings. The universe is a symphony of strings, the mind of God that Albert Einstein spent decades searching after. The mind of God is cosmic music resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God.
Jeff: Wow. I mean, that's mind blowing. I have read some of your stuff on string field theory and I think that, like you said, that is as close up of an answer as we have right now to what Einstein was postulating. It opens up so much to the realm of possibility. One of the things that I think is incredible about you—and I want to fast forward now to your career in science. You published multiple books and papers including, obviously, your work on string theory in field form, quantum mechanics, your theories on future technology and humanity. These are all heavy subjects. But when you talk about it, you make it so accessible. You make science very easy to grasp. Scientists are notorious for talking about things that are very confusing to just laymen like Dustin or myself. Does that come naturally to you? Are you able to break down science in such an easy way to grasp in a natural way?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, when I was eight years old, not only did I see Albert Einstein as a role model, I had a second role model. On Saturday mornings, they used to show the old "Flash Gordon" series on TV. I was hooked. I mean, ray guns, monsters, star ships. What's not there to love on that series? That series eventually germinated to create "Star Wars." "Star Wars" is basically a clone from the old "Flash Gordon" series. Almost scene from scene. You can see huge chunks of where "Star Wars" came from.
Now, this meant to me that the laws of physics that I loved, the laws of physics would allow me to see the future. That the ray guns, the star ships, the invisibility shields, all the stuff you see in "Flash Gordon" ultimately come back to physics. So that's when I decided that I wanted to become a physicist. But I realized that I had to explain physics to the average person or else, of course, it meant nothing to them.
Unfortunately, we physicists use mathematics and jargon as shorthand. It's very convenient to talk in equations. When I talk to my fellow physicists, we just talk equations—English words that are shorthand for equations. But to the average person outside, this is gibberish, right? So I'm a professor. I talk to freshmen. I talk to grad students. I have to talk to their language. I cannot use just my language. I have to talk to them in their language. I have to get inside their head. That's why I realized that you have to explain these theories in a way that they can understand.
My favorite quote from Einstein is that "If a theory cannot be explained to a child, then the theory is probably worthless." Meaning that there's a picture, there's a concept, there's a principle behind all the great ideas of physics that you can explain to a child. So that's my goal to be able to explain string theory to a child.
Dustin: Speaking on "Flash Gordon" and "Star Wars" and being able to predict the future, as a futurist, have you been surprised by the advances that humanity has already made, or do you feel like we're kind of behind the ball as far as technology goes?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, in my earlier book "Visions," I actually predicted what the next 20, 30 years would look like. We're right on schedule. Right on schedule with the predictions. Because I interviewed all the great minds of the time. Hundreds of them for BBC Television, the Discovery Channel. So basically, these are the people who are inventing the future. Now, one thing I got wrong in some sense is the fact of the speed at which genetic engineering has progressed, for example. I predicted that we're going to have personalized genomes by 2020. I predicted that. Many biologists thought I was nuts, totally out of mind because it took months just to get one gene sequence. Months. Here I was predicting that all of our genes would be sequenced by 2020. Well, I was too pessimistic. Because, of course, it's commercially available today. Just pay a few bucks and have your genome read. We don't even think about it anymore. The reason why is because genomics has been automated with robots and machines. It's an automated process. Humans do not sequence genes. Robots do. That's why it progressed very, very fast. Faster than I predicted.
Dustin: So do you think ... do your opinions about or your predictions get swayed by other people's opinions? Maybe if they think you're being a little crazy on your predictions, you might be a little reluctant to say they're going to be so soon? Does that hold you back at all?
Dr. Michio Kaku: No. You see, where do most people get their predictions of the future? Many people come up to me and say, "Where's my flying car? Huh? Huh? Where's my flying car?" Well, where did the prediction of flying car come from? It came from a cartoon. A cartoon called "The Jetsons." That's where most people get their understanding of the future from cartoons like "The Jetsons." Well, believe or not, we have the flying car now. Okay? In fact, I was just in Dubai a few weeks ago, and in Dubai, they look to commercialize the first flying cars. So you realize that most people's understanding of science comes from cartoons and the movies, which is very unfortunate.
I'm a physicist. My friends are physicists. I talk to them. I interview them. I put many of them on radio and television. We talk about the future because we are inventing the future. We physicists invented the transistor, which makes possible the computer revolution. We invented television, which makes possible telecommunications. We invented the space program. Most of the rocket scientists you see are actually physicists. So we physicists basically created much of the 20th century. Now we're creating the 21st century as well.
Jeff: Wow. All of what you do has touched so many people in the world and from all walks of life. It's because of the way that you can explain the intricacies of science and what you're talking about. It harkens back to that quote from Einstein. Speaking of cartoons, one of those people happens to be Bill Farmer, who happens to be the voice of Goofy, Mickey Mouse's friend in all of Disney's adaptations. He's one of your biggest fans and also a friend of our show. He wanted to ask you a question.
Bill Farmer: Michio, I'm Bill Farmer. You might know me as the voice of Goofy. Gosh, someone's got to do it. I'm a big fan. I have a question. In the world we know, classical physics is the law of the land. In the subatomic world, quantum mechanics, a whole different set of rules, takes over. Let's say I was shrinking; how far would I have to shrink until I would live this world of classical physics and become trapped by the world of quantum mechanics? Is there like a state line where we move from one to the other?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Oh, gee. That's a tough question. It used to be that people like Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the Quantum Theory, believe that there was a wall. A wall that separated the microscopic world, which is bizarre. Things can exist in multiple states simultaneously. Electrons can disappear, reappear, be in parallel states simultaneously. That bizarre world of the quantum has separated us by a wall because we live in a microscopic world where you can only be one place at one time. Forget being multiple places at multiple times simultaneously. Well, now we know there is no wall. We think that Niels Bohr was wrong. That nanotechnology allow a smooth transition between quantum mechanical things and large things. So then how do we then smoothly go from one world, the world where things can pop into existence out of nothing, and the world of today where a rock is a rock is a rock? A rock doesn't disappear. A rock doesn't turn into light.
At the subatomic level, rocks can turn into light. That rock is uranium, that light is a nuclear bomb, and at the subatomic level, you get into all sorts of goofy things happening. There is no brick wall. It's continuous. Nanotechnology has given us the ability to smoothly manipulate individual atoms. Then the question is, well, if universes can exist in simultaneous forms, then is Elvis Presley still alive in a quantum parallel universe? The answer could be well, yes. Elvis Presley could still be alive, but why can't we talk to him? If that's subatomically possible, why can't we do it in real life—talk to Elvis Presley? Well, quantum mechanics says that everything's vibrating. When things vibrate in unison, that's called coherence. Then they can interact with each other quantum mechanically. But after a while, they start to vibrate not in unison, and that's call incoherence. That's the world of today. Our world today is incoherent. That's why we cannot talk to Elvis Presley. We're no longer vibrating at the same frequency. If we were vibrating at the same frequency of Elvis Presley, then yeah, we could talk to him. But we're not. We have de-cohered from him. That's a separation. The longer you wait, the more the vibration and the waves separate and that's why you can no longer communicate between two parallel universes. So it's a smooth continuation. It's not abrupt like we once thought.
Jeff: Wow. Very cool. Now I want to talk about your upcoming book which is coming out, "The Future of Humanity," which deals with some incredible, incredible topics. One of those being this radical idea of being able to travel through space by laser by leaving our bodies. When I was reading about this in your book, I was wondering, is this actual science that we're working towards, or is this just a theory that we're taking from science fiction at this point?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, we've had a few great science projects. The Manhattan Project gave us the atomic bomb during World War II. The Genome Project gave us the genome in the last few decades. Now some people think the third great project could the connectome. That's a crash program to map the entire human brain. That is, put the neuro connections on a disc. Now once we have this disc, what do we do with it? One possibility is put it on a laser beam and shoot it into outer space so that in one second you could be on the moon. Your connectome, all the neurons and pathways and so on and so forth to be shot to the moon in one second, to Mars in 20 minutes, to Pluto in one day, and to the stars in a few years. On the moon, there is a receiving station that downloads your connectome and then puts that connectome into an avatar. That avatar is robotic. It is superhuman. It can walk on the moon. Do all sorts of superhuman feats. But you control it. Your consciousness controls the avatar.
So this could be the way that alien life travels across the galaxy. They don't use flying saucers. Flying saucers is an old hat. They simply put their connectome or consciousness on a laser beam, shoot it across the heavens, download themselves on different planets, and they can explore the galaxy this way. In fact, I personally believe that there could be a highway, a gigantic galactic highway right next to the earth where billions of souls are laser-putting themselves across the galaxy, and we are too stupid and too primitive to even know it. We wouldn't even know of the existence of a super-highway of souls.
Dustin: So what makes you think that there is a highway like this close to earth?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, you see, we assume when we think about flying saucers that they're only a 100 years more advanced than us. But you see, in a 100 years you can't go across thousands of light years across the galaxy. You'd have to be maybe a few thousand years ahead of us. Then you can zap your way across the galaxy. But we always assume that they use science that's 100 years more advanced than us. But think of it, they could be 1,000 years more advanced than us. In which case, their physics would be totally different.
Now, we physicists rank civilizations by type one, type two, and type three. A type one civilization is about 100 years more advanced, and they control planetary energies. They control the weather, for example. Type two is stellar, like "Star Trek." Captain Kirk lives in a type two civilization where they play with stars. Type three is galactic. So Han Solo zips away across the galaxy in a type three civilization. Now, what are we? We are type zero. We get our energy from dead plants, oil, and coal. But out there in outer space, easily there could be a type two or a type three civilization that zaps their way across the galaxy, and we're not even privy to that because we're too stupid. We only use radio, radio to communicate. Perhaps they're centuries beyond radio.
Jeff: Wow. This begs another question actually. Speaking on interstellar space travel, the universe seems so vast and sometimes so unreachable, and actually this was a second question that we got from Goofy, voice actor Bill Farmer. Again, like I said, he's one of your biggest fans.
Bill Farmer: The universe started as a single point at the Big Bang. It's been growing until now we see stars 13 billion light years distant. That means that light's been traveling for 13 billion years. Well, doesn't that mean that that star that we're seeing that light from is now at least 26 billion or even farther away? So how can the universe only be 13 point something billion years old?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, the farthest stars that we can observe are roughly 12, 12 and a half billion light years from us. That still means that the universe is older than the oldest stars that we can see in the universe. It used to be the opposite. Years ago, our measurements were not very precise, and the age of the star could be measured by calculating how fast it burns hydrogen. The age of stars was larger than the age of the universe. That was very embarrassing because, of course, the universe has to be older than its stars. Now the numbers are in agreement. The numbers say that the oldest stars can be maybe 12 billion, maybe 12 and a half billion years old, but the universe itself is over 13 billion years old. So the numbers agree now, which is very nice.
Jeff: Wow. That's incredible.
Dustin: Back to your book. You talk a lot about the implications of getting to Mars and then terraforming it to make it habitable for humans. Do you see a future where we're able to grow crops on Mars like we do on earth, like we've seen in recent science fiction movies?
Dr. Michio Kaku: I think one of the first things we're going to do on Mars is to try to create an agriculture on Mars. We're going to genetically modify algae, genetically modify plants. Plants love carbon dioxide and the atmosphere on Mars is carbon dioxide, but it's cold. So we have to heat up Mars a bit. If we get eject, for example, methane gas, that could create an artificial greenhouse effect or satellites. Certain satellites can beam energy to the polar ice caps, melt them to create rivers. Mars once had an ocean about the size of the United States. That's how big that ocean used to be billions of years ago. We could recreate it by melting the polar ice caps. If we can raise the temperature by six degrees, just six degrees, the atmosphere could take off. We could have a runaway greenhouse effect to raise the temperature of Mars. If we could raise it just six degrees.
Jeff: How do we go about implementing that?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, Elon Musk, the genius behind Space X and all the recent news about moon rockets. Elon Musk said casually, "Maybe we can drop a hydrogen bomb on the polar ice caps and melt them." I think that's a little bit premature because who wants to drink radioactive water?
Dr. Michio Kaku: But I think solar cells and solar satellites can beam energy to the polar ice caps to accelerate the process of heating it up. So a combination of methane gas, a combination of beaming energy to the polar ice caps, could start this runaway greenhouse effect to make Mars into another Garden of Eden.
Dustin: I find it interesting that you are more focused on changing the planet temperature and terraforming Mars than I feel like it would be easier to make plants that kind of change their genomes so that they grow better in a Mars ecosystem. Instead of changing the planet, change the plants.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Yeah. I think definitely we should genetically modify algae so that they would consume carbon dioxide on a very vast scale because the atmosphere is almost pure carbon dioxide. Also thrive in a cold environment. Mars is a frozen desert. It's frozen solid. So we have to find a way for plants to grow in a very cold environment. So initially we'll have to create hydroponics. That is, we'll have to create gigantic factories producing the first plants to create topsoil. But once that gets off the ground, I think we're going to have to heat up large areas of Mars so that plants can exist that'll proliferate on their own. Okay? So I think definitely we want to jump-start this technology to create agrobusiness on Mars by using biotechnology.
Jeff: How far away do you think we are from doing something like this?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, let's get a timetable. First of all, next year, 2019, the first moon rocket will go back to the moon after a 50-year gap. The SLS booster rocket of NASA and the Oryan space capsule are scheduled to orbit around the moon in an unmanned mission in December of 2019. Then 2023, humans, astronauts will go back to the moon. Then by 2026, we hope to have a lunar orbiter that orbits the moon to create a rocket ship that'll take us to Mars. So the moon is going to be a halfway stop. We'll stop on the moon. It's only three days away by rocket. Build the Mars ship in space and then shoot the Mars rocket to Mars for a two-year journey. That'll take place sometime around 2030, 2035. Then once we get that off the ground, a small settlement of astronauts will be created, and perhaps by the end of the century, perhaps will have a few hundred colonists on Mars. Elon Musk envisions a million colonists. Each rocket containing maybe a thousand settlers and colonists to begin the process of creating a second branch of humanity.
Now, of course, all humans are not going to go to Mars. A settlement on Mars because we need an insurance policy in case something happens to the earth. Now, remember the dinosaurs had no space program. Because the dinosaurs had no space program, that's why they're not here today to talk about it. We do have a space program, so we can create an insurance policy, a backup plan, plan b in case something bad happens to the earth.
Jeff: Wow. Getting to Mars, we're going to terraform it. I have to ask this question: Here at Death Wish Coffee, would we be able to grow coffee on Mars?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Yes. In principle, anything that could be grown on the earth can be modified slightly to grow in the environment of Mars, which is colder than the earth but still has plenty of carbon dioxide. Plants love carbon dioxide. So yes, you could have coffee on Mars.
Jeff: We tout ourselves as the world's strongest coffee. Would caffeine affect you differently in the atmosphere of Mars, or would it be the same?
Dr. Michio Kaku: I think it would be largely the same because caffeine would get in the blood, and the blood goes into the brain and stimulates dopamine. So I think that for the most part, it'll be roughly the same. You can still get the caffeine high on Mars.
Jeff: That's good because, as I said, we are the world's strongest coffee, and we hope to one day be the strongest coffee in the universe. That would be our first steps.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff: Is there anything from writing "The Future of Humanity" that was surprising as you were fleshing out the book? Is there one topic in the book that you kind of gravitate towards more than others?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Here's a very practical question: Why did the first space program of the 1960s, why did it fail? Right? We've been to the moon and then we forgot about it. Well, in 1966 I didn't realize that the NASA budget was 5% of the entire federal budget. Now, that's not sustainable. Because of the Cold War we could tolerate that, but with the Cold War damped down. Boom. You could not sustain a program like that. Now the cost is dropping. It's dropping so much that the movie "The Martian" actually cost more than the Martian space probe shot by the Indian government to Mars just three years ago. I mean, think about that.
Dr. Michio Kaku: The cost of a Hollywood movie, $100 million, exceeds the cost of a Mars probe, which was $70 million shot by the Indian government in 2014. That's how much the cost of space travel has dropped since the 1960s. Now we have reusable rockets. Elon Musk of Space X is pioneering rockets that could be reused. It costs about $10,000 a pound to put you in orbit around the earth. That's your weight in gold. So think of a body made out of solid gold. That's what it costs to put you in orbit around the earth. Now, Elon Musk wants to drive it down to $1,000 a pound by a factor of 10. That's going to open up outer space in the same way that the used car industry opened up cars.
After World War II, all these GIs came back, but they were penniless. But the used car industry took off after the war. Now we sell more used cars than new cars. So the same thing could happen with rockets. The used car rocket industry is going to be huge, I think. It's going to drop down cost by a factor of 10.
Jeff: I can't wait for a used rocket salesman to be a job.
Dustin: Oh no.
Dr. Michio Kaku: It's coming. it's coming. That means space tourism. That means settlements on the moon and Mars. Outer space is not going to be as expensive and forbidding as we think about it coming out of the moon program in the '60s.
Dustin: Well, it sounds like our government has its obligations mixed up a little bit as far as funding space programs and whatnot. But how do you feel about companies like Space X taking planetary travel, as like a private company, taking that on? How do you feel about more companies doing that? Do you think that's for the benefit of humanity, or do you think that we should keep it a governmental program?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, governmental programs are great, but there's one problem and that is you have to pay for it. Taxpayers have to pay for it out of their pocket. What if you tell people that? Then all of a sudden they become less enthusiastic about the space program. Everybody loves the space program until you figure out, "Well, who's going to pay for it?" You. You're going to pay for it. Well, who paid for the Falcon Heavy just three weeks ago? Who paid for this moon rocket? This first moon rocket in 50 years to blast off Cape Canaveral. Who paid for it? He did. 100%. Elon Musk paid for it. If he wants to shoot a Tesla Roadster, a sports car, into outer space, it's prerogative. It's his Tesla and it's his moon rocket.
So we now have two moon rockets. The NASA's SLS, it cost a billion dollars per launch. That's the cost of NASA's moon rocket, the SLS. A billion dollars per launch. Now, look at private enterprise. Private enterprise drives down the cost. How much does the Falcon Heavy cost? 10%—10% of the cost of NASA's moon rocket. Ninety million dollars is what it cost for the Falcon Heavy. So here's the situation where private enterprise—for all its faults—has been able to drive down the cost so that space tourism and space exploration is going to be much cheaper and more accessible than it was in the past. I think that's a good thing.
Dustin: Are you concerned at all with maybe the development of more private companies like this and us just launching junk into space and just kind of making a mess of everything around us?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, there is a problem. I mean, every time private enterprise gets involved, A: Prices drop because, of course, they want to mass produce things. They want to bring down the cost. They want to maximize profit. That's a good thing. But the bad thing is sometimes they're in a rush. A rush to the point where they've eaten a lot of garbage. We're still cleaning up the garbage from the oil industry. Now we have all this garbage up there in outer space. Now to be fair, most of the garbage that you see floating around the planet Earth, thousands and thousands of pieces of garbage that we track with our satellites and with super computers, most of that took place because of the government. The government was wasteful. Every time a boaster rocket went up, the booster rocket went into orbit, it became space junk. Now we're littered with all this space junk. The space shuttle, when it went through this sea of junk, would get pierced once in a while with these particles left over from the old space age. So that was, to be fair, government junk. But now we got to get rid of it. So there's some plans by some space industries to begin the slow process of trying to clean up the mess by shooting satellites that will literally gobble up pieces of space junk.
Dustin: Don't you think anybody who has. ... Don't you think that's more of an issue if anybody has a few extra billion dollars, they're going to launch shit into space? I mean, don't you think that will get worse over time if we have more people doing that?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, eventually we're going to have treaties signed. Today we have the outer space treaty of 1967 signed 60 or so years ago. It's way out of date. Because, of course, they never envisualized the commercialization of space. For example, there's a group called Lunar Express that wants to begin the process of mining the moon. They've already gotten permission from NASA to do it. They want to mine, for example, ice, which is very precious on the moon. But then the question is, who owns the moon? There's no treaty that governs this. The outer space treaty is very vague, and it basically talks about nation. It doesn't talk about private individuals who stake a claim to the moon. For example, Elon Musk has a moon rocket paid for by Elon Musk. He could go to the moon next year if he felt like it. The Dragon Capsule is capable of going to the moon. If he puts a stake in the moon and claims property, is it really his property? Well, it's a gray area because the outer space treaty of 1967 does not really address private individuals staking out claim to the moon. Because back then, it was impossible. Who would have thought? Who would have thought that a private individual could fund a moon rocket on his own? That was impossible back in 1967.So new laws are going to have to be written so that we can clean up the mess of so many rockets going up because prices are dropping.
Dustin: Well, it sounds like that should happen now. Is this something that we're working on currently?
Dr. Michio Kaku: No. Because, of course, we're still in the era of the 1960s mentally. We have to readjust our gears. We have to think that wow, we're in a new era where space travel is not going to be so expensive. The Chinese, the Indians, they've all announced that they want to go to the moon too. We're going to have a lot of space junk. They are no treaties to regulate this process. So I think nations should get together and sit down to work out the laws because we could have a traffic jam over in Mars.
You realize that there are three groups fielding rockets now. NASA, Elon Musk Space X, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. The richest man in the world has funded a private space port in Texas. He had his own fleet of rockets. So we have three groups fielding rockets eventually capable of going to the moon.
Jeff: That's three groups that we know of. I can't imagine. There must be other people out there in other countries doing the same thing.
Dr. Michio Kaku: That's right. The Chinese have publicly announced that they're going to stake their claim, put a flag on the moon. The Indians, rivals of the Chinese, are not too far behind. Of course, the European Union and Russia, they're watching this whole thing as well too.
Dustin: That's scary. It sounds like they're making for an actual "Star Wars."
Dr. Michio Kaku: That's why I think we should sit down with the UN and work out the laws now because the settlement of Mars is coming. The settlement of the moon is coming because prices are dropping. Nations are interested in this because they see possibilities in outer space. So the laws have to be rewritten to regulate it so that we don't bump into each other in outer space.
Dustin: Wow. What a mess.
Jeff: I hope that happens soon. Finally, Dr. Kaku, the one question we ask every guest on this show, and I'm very curious for your answer, is with everything you've done in the realm of science and you continue to do in the world of science, what fuels you to keep working and keep pursing the knowledge that you are looking for?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, it goes back to my childhood dream. We once thought that string theory would be it. The equations governing string theory are governed by string field theory, which is my contribution. I'm the co-founder of string field theory. But we now realize that, well, there are five string theories in 10 dimensions. Why should there be five? There should be one, right? Now we know that there is one theory that gives you all five theories as byproducts, but that's in 11 dimensions. That theory has membranes, and we call it m theory. But the problem is there's no one equation for M-theory. We have found thousands of equations for membrane because there's many, many different types of membranes. So the theory is not in its final form. We have the theory. The best minds on the planet Earth are working on the theory, but it's not in its final form. That's what I'm working on now to try to clean up the mess, try to get one equation in 11 dimensions that contains membranes to settle the question of the unified field theory. The theory of everything.
Dustin: Do you think it's within your grasp?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Oh yeah. That's what I'm working on now.
Dr. Michio Kaku: So I think we have the theory. The theory is clumsy. It's not in its final form just because it's not finished yet. But there are people like myself trying to finish it.
Jeff: That's so exciting.
Dustin: That's amazing.
Jeff: Yeah. I want to thank you yet again for taking time to talk with us today, and just for our listeners and watchers out there, what is the best way to follow you and what you're doing?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Go to my website: Mkaku.org. M-K-A-K-U.org. Or go to my Facebook site. We have three million fans on Facebook, and on Twitter, we have about 600,000 fans on Twitter.
Jeff: Awesome. Awesome.
Dustin: That's amazing. Thank you so much, Dr. Kaku. We can't thank you enough. Our minds are officially blown for the day.
Dustin: Which is always a great thing to open up our brains and stuff a few more things in there. We know you have more important things to get to. We can't be more grateful for you taking the time and talking to us today.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Oh, well thank you because my book tour starts now. So maybe I'll be signing your copy of "The Future of Humanity." Go to my website, it lists all the cities that I'll be traveling in. After I sign your book, you can go to Ebay and auction it off for money. You can actually make money on my book tour.
Dustin: We would never do such a thing, Dr. Kaku. If you signed my book, I'd keep that for life and pass it on to my children.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Okay.
Dustin: Well, thank you very much, man. I hope you have a great day. Like I said, we can't appreciate you enough for taking the time to do this.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Okay. My pleasure.
Speaker 5: Science.
Jeff: All right, D-man. So we're doing the science segment this week. We couldn't not ask Dr. Kaku to be a part of this.
Dustin: I mean, if you're talking to a scientist, maybe the smartest scientist alive, you have to have them talk on our science segment. It's just the way it goes, and what an honor. How cool is it that we have this show and we have a science segment, and now we do it with Dr. Michio Kaku!
Jeff: It's incredible.
Dustin: It's crazy. It's like starting a band and then Axl Rose sings a song with you.
Dustin: It's crazy.
Jeff: It's mind blowing. There was some really cool recent discoveries about space, and we wanted to talk to him about that. He was so gracious to talk to us about space, some space travel, and what we're looking for in the future considering aliens. A lot of stuff we talk about on this show. So here it is. Our science segment this week with Dr. Michio Kaku.
So this week—actually there's been some recent discoveries from the K2 mission from NASA Kepler space telescope. In an upcoming article in the "Astronomical Journey," they are talking about how they've found 95 new extrasolar planets, which I think is incredible. This also harkens back to in 2016 when we discovered the Trappist-1 system with seven different exo-planets. Now the Hubble telescope is giving us a heck of a lot more information. Observing the planet's atmospheres and water compositions, with some having the potential to hold even more water than earth. First, I would love for you to explain to us and our listeners, what is the difference between an extrasolar planet and an exoplanet.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, an extrasolar planet is just a planet outside our solar system because it's extrasolar. Solar implies our solar system. An exoplanet is just anything out there.
Jeff: Ah. Okay.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Basically, they're interchangeable.
Jeff: I see. I see. How close do you think we are to discovering planets with a habitable atmosphere?
Dr. Michio Kaku: I wouldn't be surprised whether next year or the year after that we find a doppelganger in outer space. That is a planet that has roughly the same size as the planet Earth, and potentially it has liquid oceans out of which DNA could be formed. Now, right now, we have found roughly 20 or so Super-Earths, plantes that are, for example, 50%, 100% bigger than the Earth. But I think we're getting very close now to finding a twin of the Earth in outer space that is the same size of the Earth and potentially could have liquid water oceans.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, that begs the question, and I know you've been asked this before, but do you believe there is intelligent life in the universe?
Dr. Michio Kaku: I think we have a census now of the Milky Way Galaxy that, on average, every star has a planet going around it, mainly Jupiter size, but about maybe one in 20 of them, who knows for sure. But about one in 20 of them, in turn, have earth-sized planets going around. If you do the math, we're talking about billions. Billions of earth-sized planets in our own backyard. So the probability that we could have microbial life and even intelligent life is extremely high, just within our own backyard.
Dustin: That's crazy. I mean, speaking of in our backyard, what about Mars? When we eventually get there and we start really surveying and digging around the planet, do you think we will eventually find evidence of life, intelligent life, or maybe something that was there before?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, there's several places that we have not explored on Mars. We've been on the surface of Mars basically in areas that are quite flat because we don't want the space probe to tip over and crash. We have not been to the polar ice caps. We have not been underground. We have not been to, for example, the Grand Canyon of Mars, which is Mariner Valley. So there are large portions of Mars that we have not visited at all. So there's always a chance that microbial life could exist. We do find methane gas coming out of the planet. There's a debate as to whether or not the methane gas is organic or not or natural. But we cannot rule out the possibility that there's some kind of microbial life on the ice caps or maybe underground. Like where did the water go on Mars billions of years ago? It went into outer space. It went into the polar ice caps and went into underground permafrost. So if there was intelligent life, they would follow the water. They would go to the ice caps. They would drill underground, and they would flee into outer space. They would follow the water.
Jeff: That just begs the question: If and when we do find intelligent life in the universe—whether it be light years away or in our own backyard, what do you think the first steps that humanity should take when and if that happens? Obviously, I always think of "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy." Don't panic. Obviously, we hope none of us panic. But what should our first steps be when that discovery is made?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, first of all, there are no protocols that you see often in the movies where the Joint Chiefs of Staff get together and tell the public, "Don't panic," or keep everything a secret. There are no such protocols. Okay? Governments have not come together to discuss this. So I think, first of all, we'll probably pick up a radio signal from a nearby planet. The first response will be to decipher the message. The message will be regular, rather than random, indicating that there's an intelligence behind it. Have to use supercomputers to decipher it. Okay? At that point, it's going to leak out. People cannot keep secrets. It'll leak out that we've detected intelligent signals from outer space.
First, we have to translate it. Second, we have to then figure out the level of technology. Are they vastly superior to us? Or are they just beginning to understand radio, for example? Like our civilization. In other words, are they type one, type two, or type three. We'll have to figure out which type civilization they are. Type one is planetary. They control the weather. They control all planetary forces. Type two is stellar, like "Star Trek." They control individual stars. Type three is galactic. They roam the galactic space lanes. So we'll have to understand the level of technology. Third, we'll have to understand whether or not they're potentially hostile or not. Whether they can pose a threat to us. If they're type two or type three, they could probably visit us. In which case, we definitely have to wonder about what happens if we encounter them.
Jeff: Wow. Yeah.
Dr. Michio Kaku: By the way, if they are very advanced and they have the potential of visiting us, we have to figure out what do they want? Many times in the movies they want to take over, take our earth like resources. But you see, there are plenty of planets out there that are uninhabited. They don't have to plunder us. They can have other planets to plunder if they feel like. So they're not going to want to do that. So what do they want? Well, we have to figure that out.
Dr. Michio Kaku: One possibility is that well, if you're in the forest and you talk to the squirrels and you talk to the deer, eventually you get bored with them because they don't talk back to you. The same thing with these civilizations. If they're that advanced, they've been listening in on our conversations. We don't talk back to them in any intelligent way so they lose interest. So for the most part, they'll probably leave us alone.
Dustin: Do you think that could be happening right now where we have an intelligent life force communicating with us and we just don't know how to pick it up or respond?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Well, I think what is possible is that any civilizations have discovered what I call laser pointing. That is shooting their consciousness on laser beams across the universe. This replaces flying saucers, replacing UFOS. No weightlessness problems. No accidents. No radiation. None of those problems. You just take your connectomes, that is your neural pathways, put it on a laser beam and shoot it through outer space. We could be next to a super highway, a gigantic super highway of beings laser pointing themselves across the galaxy at the speed of light. We are too stupid to even know of its existence. That's how primitive we are.
Dustin: I mean, it could be even technology that we're not even able to imagine or grasp at all that could be going on and we're completely not picking it up.
Dr. Michio Kaku: Possibly. We use radio to communicate. Perhaps they've gone way past radio. Perhaps they're partly robotic. There are many scenarios whereby they don't do the kinds of technologies that we do because we assume that they're only maybe 100 years more advanced than us. But let's say they're a thousand, a million years more advanced than us. Then, of course, the way they communicate what they want is going to be completely different. So we could be barking up the wrong tree.
Dustin: I think of how we, as humans, interact with life forms that are less intelligent than us. The thing that makes me nervous is that we're not always kind to intelligent or to life that is less intelligent than us. So I imagine that if there was an alien force that did come in contact with us and was more intelligent than us, that it might have malevolent intentions. Is that a right way to think, or am I kind of misled there?
Dr. Michio Kaku: First of all, I don't think we should advertise our existence to alien life forms in outer space because we don't know their intentions. They could be malevolent, as you pointed out. More than likely, they probably just don't care. For example, who's more dangerous to the deer, the hunter with a high-powered rifle or the developer? The high-powered rifled hunter is apparently more dangerous to the deer, but really the main danger is the developer—the guy with the blueprints. He's just going to pave you over and destroy your habitat and starve you guys to death. He just doesn't care.
The martians in "War of the Worlds" were not evil. They did not hate us. We were just in the way. Just like in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the main problem is not the hunter. The main problem is that we're just in the way. They simply don't care and just pave us over.
Jeff: It's a lot of food for thought, and I'm always interested in what we're going to find out next. It's very uplifting to hear that you're saying that you think just in the next couple years we're going to find our twin out there, which could open up ...
Dr. Michio Kaku: Within the next few years. I think within the century, we'll probably receive interception of signals from intelligent life in outer space. So I think in this century, there could be this historic moment where we may contact with intelligent life in the universe. Now, that doesn't mean that we can have a two-way conversation because, of course, they could be hundreds of light years away where communication is impossible. But the fact that we can intercept messages from them, I think it'll happen in this century.
Dustin: But you think maybe we shouldn't be putting our signal out there and trying to connect with these intelligent life forms?
Dr. Michio Kaku: No. I think we should not because we don't know their intentions. I think, for the most part, they're going to be benevolent because they're very advanced, but who knows? We could be in the way, or they could just be ... they just don't care. So we have to be careful about advertising our existence. I don't think we should do that.
Dustin: But we are, right?
Dr. Michio Kaku: Yeah. I don't think we should add to it, in other words. We're already advertising our existence with radio. Television has "Leave It To Beaver" and "I Love Lucy" beaming into outer space. I just don't think we should add to that.
Jeff: I agree. I agree. Well, thanks again for being on our science segment.