Michio Kaku (加来 道雄 Kaku Michio, born January 24, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science. He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles.
Early life and education
Kaku was born in San Jose, California to Japanese immigrant parents. His grandfather came to the United States to take part in the clean-up operation after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. His father was born in California but was educated in Japan and spoke little English. Both his parents were put in the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, where they met and where his two brothers were born.
At Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, Kaku assembled an atom smasher in his parent's garage for a science fair project. At the National Science Fair in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attracted the attention of physicist Edward Teller, who took Kaku as a protégé, awarding him the Hertz Engineering Scholarship. Kaku graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1968 and was first in his physics class. He attended the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972, and in 1972 he held a lectureship at Princeton University.
During the Vietnam War, Kaku completed his U.S. Army basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia and his advanced infantry training at Fort Lewis, Washington. However, the Vietnam War ended before he was deployed as an infantryman.
Kaku became a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and New York University. He currently holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York.
Kaku has had over 70 articles published in physics journals such as Physical Review, covering topics such as superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry, and hadronic physics. In 1974, along with Prof. Keiji Kikkawa of Osaka University, he authored the first papers describing string theory in a field form.
Kaku is the author of several textbooks on string theory and quantum field theory.
Kaku is most widely known as a popularizer of science. He has written books and appeared on many television programs as well as film. He also hosts a weekly radio program.
Kaku is the author of various popular science books.
Hyperspace was a best-seller and was voted one of the best science books of the year by both The New York Times and The Washington Post. Parallel Worlds was a finalist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in the UK.
Kaku is the host of the weekly, one-hour radio program Explorations, produced by the Pacifica Foundation's WBAI in New York. "Explorations" is syndicated to community and independent radio stations and makes previous broadcasts available on the program's website. Kaku defines the show as dealing with the general topics of science, war, peace, and the environment.
In April 2006, Kaku began broadcasting Science Fantastic on 90 commercial radio stations, the only nationally syndicated science program on commercial radio in the United States. It is syndicated by Talk Radio Network and now reaches 130 radio stations and America's Talk on XM. The program is formatted as a live listener call-in show, focusing on "futurology," which he defines as the future of science. Featured guests include Nobel laureates and top researchers on the topics of string theory, time travel, black holes, gene therapy, aging, space travel, artificial intelligence, and SETI. When Kaku is busy filming for television, Science Fantastic goes on hiatus, sometimes for several months. Kaku is also a frequent guest on many programs, where he is outspoken in all areas and issues he considers of importance, such as the program "Coast to Coast AM," where on 30 November 2007, he reaffirmed his belief that there is a 100% probability of extraterrestrial life in the universe.
Kaku has appeared on The Opie and Anthony Show a number of times, discussing popular fiction such as Back to The Future, Lost, and the theories behind time-travel that these and other fictional entertainment focus on.
Television and film
Kaku has appeared in many forms of media and on many programs and networks, including Good Morning America, The Screen Savers, Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, Nightline, 20/20, Naked Science, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Al Jazeera English, Fox News Channel, The History Channel, Conan, The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel, TLC, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Colbert Report, The Art Bell Show and its successor, Coast To Coast AM, BBC World News America, The Opie & Anthony Show, The Covino & Rich Show, Head Rush, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Real Time with Bill Maher.
In 1999, Kaku was one of the scientists profiled in the feature-length film Me and Isaac Newton, directed by Michael Apted. It played theatrically in the United States, was later broadcast on national TV, and won several film awards.
In 2005, Kaku appeared in the short documentary Obsessed & Scientific. The film is about the possibility of time travel and the people who dream about it. It screened at the Montreal World Film Festival and a feature film expansion is in development talks. Kaku also appeared in the ABC documentary UFOs: Seeing Is Believing, in which he suggested that while he believes it is extremely unlikely that extraterrestrials have ever actually visited Earth, we must keep our minds open to the possible existence of civilizations a million years ahead of us in technology, where entirely new avenues of physics open up. He also discussed the future of interstellar exploration and alien life in the Discovery Channel special Alien Planet as one of the multiple speakers who co-hosted the show, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity on The History Channel.
In February 2006, Kaku appeared as presenter in the BBC-TV four-part documentary Time which seeks to explore the mysterious nature of time. Part one of the series concerns personal time, and how we perceive and measure the passing of time. The second in the series deal with cheating time, exploring possibilities of extending the lifespan of organisms. The geological time covered in part three explores the ages of the earth and the sun. Part four covers the topics of cosmological time, the beginning of time and the events that occurred at the instant of the big bang.
On January 28, 2007, Kaku hosted the Discovery Channel series 2057. This three-hour program discussed how medicine, the city, and energy could change over the next 50 years.
In 2008, Kaku hosted the three-hour BBC-TV documentary Visions of the Future, on the future of computers, medicine, and quantum physics, and he appeared in several episodes of the History Channel's Universe series.
On December 1, 2009, he began hosting a 12-episode weekly TV series for the Science Channel at 10 pm, called Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible, based on his best-selling book. Each 30-minute episode discusses the scientific basis behind imaginative schemes, such as time travel, parallel universes, warp drive, star ships, light sabers, force fields, teleportation, invisibility, death stars, and even superpowers and flying saucers. Each episode includes interviews with the world's top scientists working on prototypes of these technologies, interviews with sci-fi fans, clips from science fiction movies, and special effects and computer graphics. Although these inventions are impossible today, the series discusses when these technologies might become feasible in the future.
In 2010, he began to appear in a series on the website Gametrailers.com called Science of Games, discussing the scientific aspects of various popular video games such as Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Kaku is popular in mainstream media because of his knowledge and his accessible approach to presenting complex subjects in science. While his technical writings are confined to theoretical physics, his public speaking and media appearances cover a broad range of topics, from the Kardashev scale to more esoteric subjects such as wormholes and time travel. In January 2007, Kaku visited Oman. While there, he talked at length to select members of that country's decision makers. In an interview with local media, Dr Kaku elaborated on his vision of mankind's future. Kaku considers climate change and terrorism as serious threats in man's evolution from a Type 0 civilization to Type 1.
He is pictured in Symphony of Science's newest song (as of September 6th, 2011), 'The Quantum World.'
On October 11, 2010, Michio Kaku appeared in the BBC program "What Happened Before the Big Bang" (along with Laura Mersini-Houghton, Andrei Linde, Roger Penrose, Lee Smolin, Neil Turok, and other notable cosmologists and physicists), where he propounded his theory of the universe created out of nothing.
Social policy advocacy
Kaku has publicly stated his concerns over matters including the anthropogenic cause of global warming, nuclear armament, nuclear power and the general misuse of science. He was critical of the Cassini–Huygens space probe because of the 72 pounds (33 kg) of plutonium contained in the craft for use by its radioisotope thermoelectric generator. Conscious of the possibility of casualties if the probe's fuel were dispersed into the environment during a malfunction and crash as the probe was making a 'sling-shot' maneuver around earth, Kaku publicly criticized NASA's risk assessment. He has also spoken on the dangers of space junk and called for more and better monitoring. Kaku is generally a vigorous supporter of the exploration of outer space, believing that the ultimate destiny of the human race may lie in extrasolar planets; but he is critical of some of the cost-ineffective missions and methods of NASA.
Kaku credits his anti-nuclear war position to programs he heard on the Pacifica Radio network, during his student years in California. It was during this period that he made the decision to turn away from a career developing the next generation of nuclear weapons in association with Edward Teller and focused on research, teaching, writing and media. Kaku joined with others such as Helen Caldicott, Jonathan Schell, Peace Action and was instrumental in building a global anti-nuclear weapons movement that arose in the 1980s, during the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Kaku was a board member of Peace Action and on the board of radio station WBAI-FM in New York City where he originated his long running program, Explorations, that focused on the issues of science, war, peace and the environment.
His remark from an interview in support of SETI, "We could be in the middle of an intergalactic conversation...and we wouldn't even know.", is used in the third Symphony of Science installment "Our Place in the Cosmos".
Kaku is married to Shizue Kaku and has two daughters.
- Kaku, Michio; Trainer, Jennifer, eds (1982). Nuclear Power: Both Sides. New York: Norton. ISBN 0393016315.
- Kaku, Michio; Daniel Axelrod (1987). To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon's Secret War Plans. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0896083217.
- Kaku, Michio (1993). Quantum Field Theory: A Modern Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195076524.
- Kaku, Michio (1994). Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192861891.
- Kaku, Michio; Jennifer Trainer Thompson (1995). Beyond Einstein: Superstrings and the Quest for the Final Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192861964.
- Kaku, Michio (1999). Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory. New York: Springer. ISBN 0387985891.
- Kaku, Michio (1999). Strings, Conformal Fields, and M-Theory. New York: Springer. ISBN 0387988920.
- Kaku, Michio (1999). Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st century and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192880187.
- Kaku, Michio (2004). Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297847554.
- Kaku, Michio (2004). Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and Our Future in the Cosmos. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0713997281.
- Kaku, Michio (2008). "M-Theory: The Mother of All Superstrings" in Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory. New York: Scriblerus. ISBN 9780980211405.
- Kaku, Michio (2008). Physics of the Impossible. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 9780385520690.
- Kaku, Michio (2011). Physics of the Future: How Science will Shape Human Destiny and our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. New York: Doubleday. LCCN 2010026569.
- ^ About Michio Kaku
- ^ Kaku, Michio. "Physics of the Impossible". pp 11. Doubleday. http://books.google.com/books?id=ube-MQcFFZQC&pg=PR11&lpg=PR11&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- ^ Kaku, Michio (1994). Hyperspace: a scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps, and the tenth dimension. Oxford University Press US. pp. 146. ISBN 0195085140. http://books.google.com/?id=_HBtAHuG6dwC&pg=PA164&dq=%22michio+kaku%22+%22fort+benning%22#v=onepage&q=.
- ^ "Previous People". Institute for Advanced Study. http://www.sns.ias.edu/previous?group=physics.
- ^ Hua, Long; Michio Kaku (1994). "Non-polynomial closed string field theory". Thesis (Ph.D.) New York University: 107 p.. http://aleph.library.nyu.edu/F/FPCJXNMBBKHEUMTJ8C6HUB6JHPLVVQQF1ACVTACEPTM9P18S2N-00900?func=direct&doc_number=003142571&format=999.
- ^ "Physics Department". The City College of New York. http://www1.ccny.cuny.edu/prospective/science/profiles/Kaku-Profile.cfm.
- ^ "List of research papers in American Physical Society Journals". http://publish.aps.org/search/query?&offset=0&q%5Bclauses%5D%5B%5D%5Bvalue%5D=kaku+michio&q%5Bclauses%5D%5B%5D%5Boperator%5D=AND&q%5Bclauses%5D%5B%5D%5Bfield%5D=author&q%5Bper_page%5D=25.
- ^ Kaku, Michio; Michio Kaku and K. Kikkawa (15). "Field theory of relativistic strings. I. Trees". Physical Review D 10 (4): 1110–1133. Bibcode 1974PhRvD..10.1110K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.10.1110. http://prd.aps.org/abstract/PRD/v10/i4/p1110_1.
- ^ Kaku, Michio; Michio Kaku and K. Kikkawa (1974). "Field theory of relativistic strings. II. Loops and Pomerons". Phys. Rev. D. 1110 10 (6): 1823–1843. Bibcode 1974PhRvD..10.1823K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.10.1823. http://prd.aps.org/abstract/PRD/v10/i6/p1823_1.
- ^ a b "Notable books of 1994". The New York Times. December 4, 1994. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E7DA1630F937A35751C1A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=22. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
- ^ "Amazon.com: Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century (9780385484992): Michio Kaku: Books". amazon.com. 2011 [last update]. http://www.amazon.com/Visions-Science-Will-Revolutionize-Century/dp/0385484992. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
- ^ Kaku, Michio. "Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction 2005 - Longlist". Parallel Worlds. BBC. http://www.thesamueljohnsonprize.co.uk/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=81.
- ^ Michio Kaku (30 November 2007) (Audio). Universe, Energy & SETI. with Art Bell. Coast to Coast AM. http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2007/11/30.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- ^ SCI-FI SCIENCE: Physics of the Impossible.
- ^ "The Upside Down World of Dr. Michio Kaku". BusinessToday Oman (Apex Press and Publishing). February 2007. http://www.apexstuff.com/bt/200702/cover.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- ^ "www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vdkmj". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vdkmj.
- ^ Kaku, Michio (Summer 1992). "Nuclear Threats and the New World Order". CovertAction Quarterly 41 (2). http://www.ratical.org/radiation/inetSeries/NthrtsNnwo.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- ^ Kaku, Michio (5 October 1997). A Scientific Critique of the Accident Risks from the Cassini Space Mission. Animated Software Company. http://www.animatedsoftware.com/cassini/mk9708so.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- ^ Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. Michio Kaku. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011
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