Michio Kaku labels himself, and is labeled by his media adherents, as a “theoretical physicist, futurist, and popularizer of science.” From time to time, I see his name or his image, but I haven’t paid much attention. Kaku apparently is a regular contributor to CBS This Morning (which I do not recall ever watching). National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal consider him worthy of space in their pages. Among Kaku’s most recent books, The Future of the Mind suggests (according to reports—I’ve not read the book) humanity must leave our planet, our galaxy, even our universe in order to not only survive but to reach our destiny. To quote a blurb about another of his books, The Future of Humanity, on his website:
Finally, he brings us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space. With irrepressible enthusiasm and wonder, Dr. Kaku takes readers on a fascinating journey to a future in which humanity may finally fulfill its long-awaited destiny among the stars.
Wait. Our destiny among the stars? Is this simply marketing hyperbole or does this physicist actually believe humankind is destined to essentially control the universe? I don’t doubt the man is a brilliant physicist, but I question the degree to which we should invest confidence in his work in the wake of a suggestion (intended or not) that humankind ‘s destiny to control the heavens.
I’m writing about Kaku this morning because someone sent me an article about him. I found the article interesting, but not especially educational. The article identified Kaku as a physicist and, in particular, a futurist. As I read what Kaku believes can and will happen (humans will “merge” with their increasingly fast computers), his credibility as a physicist dropped a notch in my eyes. He wasn’t theorizing about advances in physics, he was fantasizing about advances in the adaptation and adoption of science fiction to human lives.
I readily admit a bias against predicting the future of humankind. Too many potential influences simply cannot be accounted for, weighed, and sufficiently and thoroughly analyzed to predict the future. It’s like throwing a handful of darts at a distant dartboard at precisely the moment when a powerful gust of wind blows a tree and five cargo vans in between you and the dartboard. It could be two trees and seven cargo vans and a microburst downdraft. Factor all of that in and you might have a testable theory. But did you account for the fact that some of the darts weigh more than the other? How about the potential that someone behind you pushes you just as you release the darts? Or that, instead of being pushed, you’re yanked backward?
It’s probably unwise to ramble on about the thought processes of a man about whom I know very little and about books I’ve not read. But I am unbound by requiring myself to follow facts and, instead, I have given myself permission to allow my intuition to shape my uninformed opinions.
But speaking of science fiction and fantasy, the concept that our thoughts are simply complex expressions of energy intrigues me. What if, I ask myself, the energy of thoughts stored in our brains release upon our death and, released from captivity in our brains with the decomposition of our bodies, slip out into the universe? What if all the thoughts of brilliant theoretical physicists (e.g., Einstein) thereby released were available for “capture?” What if the thinking that went into the writing of the U.S. Constitution—the thoughts of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, et al—were available for review and analysis? How might the ability to capture these free-floating bundles of complex energy impact our view of the world and our place in it? I give thought to such possibilities, but haven’t the energy and motivation to expound on them in a coherent way in story or book form. Well, not yet.
Today will be chock-full of activities. First, we will go to UUVC and listen to a woman speak on Soul: CPR, a title that on its surface sounds more than a little too woo-woo for my taste. I hope, once hear her presentation, I will change my mind. Immediately following, we’ll sit with a smaller group than sat in the sanctuary and watch a TED Talk (title and topic as yet unknown to me) and will then discuss the talk and its relevance to us and to UU. Once home and lightly fed, we’ll join neighbors for an afternoon youth symphony concert (they offered us two free tickets that landed in their laps). Upon conclusion, we will join them for a very early dinner at their favorite (and our least favorite) Mexican restaurant in the area. They’re driving and they suggested the restaurant. And they’re giving us the tickets. I couldn’t very well say “Hell, no! We won’t eat in that swill-factory” and expect them to remain friendly. They’re very nice people and exceptionally good neighbors. They just have misguided taste in restaurant selection. And they do not like highly spiced foods. I try not to associate a dislike for spicy foods with deep-seated character flaws, but I’m not always successful. I wonder what monstrous defects are hidden in their brains. Speaking of spicy foods, I found a jar of Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa in a local market. Hallelujah! I’ve only just sampled a bit, but it was enough to know the jar will last a long, long time. I’m not sure who mentioned the stuff to me recently, but I owe a debt of gratitude to that person. I noticed, in looking at the label that ghost peppers are much lower on the ingredient list than jalapeños and a bunch of other ingredients. If ghost peppers were the main ingredient, the cartilage in my nose would have melted and my eyes would have disappeared in a fiery mist immediately upon opening the jar and taking a sniff.