Thursday, July 14, 2016

PARALLEL WORLDS by Michio Kaku


Michio Kaku is one of the best interpreters of complex science to the layman. Unlike some others, he seems more reasoned and balanced in expressing opinions while keeping his own ego mostly out of the equation. His new book is PARALLEL WORLDS: A journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos. Read by Marc Vietor on audio, the audiobook is a history of physics mingled with (and to set up) discussions of multiverse theories. Kaku tells why scientists must have a theory of everything in order to aid progress of the species (away from extinction due to war & ignorance, which is a 50/50 tossup.) In describing M Theory as part of string theory, he is cautiously optimistic that the ultimate answer may be a formula scarcely more than an inch long. Einstein’s E=MC2 was one such revolutionary formula. “And it will not solve humanity’s problems overnight,” he says. “Scientists in the past have often underestimated the length of time for progress to occur.” Science moves by increments, after all. It is a slow building process, rejecting bad ideas in favor of better explanations. (2001: A Space Odyssey may end up being 2100 before we go to Jupiter on manned missions with AI in control.) Kaku makes analogies like John Glenn being made of solid gold, which is how much it costs to put an astronaut into space. Going to Mars is a favorite obsession for NASA and physicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson, to say nothing of fans who know little about the dangers and costs. Kaku suggests that such a mission would not return much in real cost/benefit, and that it might be better to wait until the technology improves far more than it has. As a civilization, we are near zero in ability to harness energy efficiently. On an actual scale, we would be .07. A level 1 civilization would be a million times more efficient. A level 2 a million times more than level 1, and a level 3 still a million times greater. In order for an advanced civilization to be here on Earth (in UFOs) they would need to be at least level 2.5. What would be the odds that we could fight them, as Hollywood would have you believe (given that aliens would even possess our ego flaws)? Insert LOL. Or as Arthur C. Clarke put it, “a sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic.” Kaku describes the eventual fate of the universe, what is needed to escape that fate, (if such a thing is possible,) and he references science fiction stories to illustrate concepts. (For example, check out this link for a story on carbon nanotubes used in creating a space elevator.) This all makes for an entertaining overview of current cosmology science, with greater complexity and depth than one finds on TV shows like NOVA. Science satellite data and upcoming new instruments, the nature of the Big Bang (“which wasn’t big and didn’t bang,”) inflationary proofs, plus philosophy and religion…nothing is off limits to this excellent production with Vietor (who has narrated SF in the past) at the helm. Within the next two decades we may know the ultimate secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and so Kaku is calling this the “golden age” of physics. A must hear. Michio Kaku is the Henry Semat Professor of theoretical physics at the CUNY Graduate Center, a leader in the field of theoretical physics, and cofounder of string field theory. He is the author of several widely acclaimed science books, including Parallel Worlds, Visions, Beyond Einstein, Hyperspace, and Physics of the Impossible—the basis for his Science Channel television show, Sci-Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible—and the host of two radio programs, Explorations and Science Fantastic.





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