220px-Michio_Kaku_in_2012The tech/no series is a wonderful opportunity for us to not only explore the societal impacts of technologies and take time to reflect on them, but also to discuss what the future will bring. I can think of no better speaker to bring to Bucknell (however unlikely it is that we could get him) than Michio Kaku. Mr. Kaku is a theoretical physicist who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University and received his Ph.D. from Berkeley. He has become world renowned for his uncanny ability to popularize and translate incredibly complex scientific and physics principles into layman’s terms, and hosts several shows on BBC, the History Channel, the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel, when he is not too busy teaching at City College in New York or inventing string field theory.

If you are not a Michio Kaku fan, I recommend you start immediately. A sci-fi dork myself, I tend to fantasize about future technology, especially in hard science fiction, or the kinds where the authors base their predictions on real science. For example, as much as I worship Star Wars, it is full of simply cool shit, where there are superlasers and faster-than-light travel and other epic, make-believe technologies; however, if you watch a movie like Avatar, the spaceships are based off of solar-sail models currently being considered by NASA that go 0.6c, robotics are powered by superconductors and advanced, low-friction ceramic-composites, etc. Mr. Kaku is famous for predicting a very realistic future, with specific timelines for specific technologies currently in research; some will be finished soon, others could take another 60 years to develop. However, he has spent his entire life predicting the behavior of the universe, he’s wicked smaht (ha, Harvard reference), and he’s pretty damn good at figuring out what’s going to happen next. I recently read his book, Physics of the Future, which is an excellent read for anyone with any remote interest in technology and the future of humanity, and in which he discusses his generally-agreed-upon view of the future of humanity. And it is pretty spectacular.

The main reason I think Michio Kaku would be so perfect for Bucknell is due to his familiarity with extremely advanced technology and his willingness to share this with as many people as possible. I think it would be good for Bucknell and the future leaders of society to take a hard look into the future and evaluate that reality as well. But part of Mr. Kaku’s appeal is also his willingness to share the dark side of technology. Unlike some science fiction/futurist experts, who have unyielding faith in science and only believe that technology will create a paradise, Mr. Kaku is very wary of many of the potential dangers that major scientific breakthroughs can bring. I have provided a link to a brief intro video below discussing just some small highlights, but he is full of these insights and, luckily, enjoys sharing them with as many people as possible. I think Michio Kaku would be the highlight of the tech/no series and is, regardless, one of the most important voices of modern day to listen to, whether you are from the scientific community or not.

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6 responses »

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    This guy sounds very interesting. I am not a sci-fi dork but the idea of exploring new technologies for the future is intriguing. What really intrigues me is the idea that he can explain the science behind his discoveries to people who aren’t the science-type. This would greatly appeal to me and a lot of the other non-science people on campus which is why I also think he would be a great speaker at Bucknell.

  2. eric says:

    Great suggestion! Dr. Kaku is, truly, a once-in-a-generation physicist. I’ve read a number of his books, and while I’ve always enjoyed physics, he makes it truly enjoyable for anyone to read (my Mom has read a number of them too, she introduced me to them, in fact). The first book I read (by Dr. Kaku) was Physics of the Impossible. In it, he details the ways in which a future civilization might go about creating anything from lightsabers to starships to time-travel. Incredible read that covers everything from force fields to space elevators (yes, you read that right). His other books, for the more physics-able, are great too – but be prepared to get smarter, he warps time and space 🙂

    On a more…our generation…note, there are a ton of youtube videos of his lectures and shows that you can watch (no reading necessary, watch out though: will make you think)

    “The World of 2030” (lecture)

    “Intelligence Revolution” (produced video)

    “Are we ready for the coming age of abundance?” Panel (including Dr. Kaku)

    To name a few. (I could not get the first two links to work, after 20 min of trying.. I quit)

  3. Steph P. says:

    Kaku is definitely well ahead of his time, and makes some valid points (in the five minute video i watched). I am well aware of the points he brings up, but never thought to imagine how his warnings could potentially become a reality. One of the ideas that shocked me the most was the “typing ACTG” on typewriters. I cannot fathom being able to print out base elements and proteins in the typist’s desired chain. From the technology we already utilize – and the technology the public isn’t even aware of yet, I fear that in 50 years we will actually have to deal with things like Airborne Aids or a recurrence of the Spanish Flu. I fear even more the steps the government would take to eradicate those widespread diseases, and the mob mentalities that may present themselves due to panic.

  4. Abby says:

    Wow! Michio Kaku sounds like an incredibly interesting speaker. I think its rare to find a speaker who can talk both about the wonders of future technology and the dangers of them as well. I feel like most people pick one or the other to focus on, so it is refreshing to hear of someone who might talk about both. I also think it would be very interesting to hear about the innovations and inventions that might occur in the upcoming years. I think as college students in particular, the inventions he is talking about will most certainly effect both our business and personal lives, so we should try and become aware of future innovations and inventions as soon as possible. Definitely sounds like a very interesting speaker for Bucknell!

  5. Jordi says:

    Star Wars is really fantasy, not sci fi, as you point out.

    Too bad Avatar didn’t have an interesting story.

    Sci fi dorks of the world, arise!

  6. wesmw says:

    I like your comparison of Avatar and Star Wars and how each differs in how they have contributed to the techno boom. Mr. Kaku sounds like an extremely interesting individual and it sounds like he would be great candidate to speak at Bucknell. With several questions surrounding our future and the role technology, I think that it would be great for Bucknell to have some give a lecture that would address some of these concerns

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