Moderator at 1:56pm ET
Welcome Dr. Michio Kaku.
David Wohlfarth from tnt21.atl2.da.uu.net at 1:56pm ET
Hello Dr. Kaku, my question is, what the difference is between folding space and worm holes?
Michio Kaku at 1:57pm ET
Folding space and wormholes are the same thing. In science fiction, a great distinction is made between the two, but from a mathematical point of view, they are the same.
If I take a sheet of paper, fold it in half, and then punch a hole through this folded sheet of paper, this is sometimes called "folded space" However, a mathematician would call this a simply-connected manifold. So, mathematically speaking, they are the same.
Moderator at 1:58pm ET
RJ asks: Do you think that most people are thinking the wrong way when it comes to "travelling" great distances in space?
Isn't it feasible that overlapping or intersecting dimensions can be purposely breached thus allowing movement between them for those who have realized that the "physical" world goes beyond our ideas about the limits of Physics?
Michio Kaku at 2:00pm ET
This could be true. Most scientists giggle when they hear about UFOs, because the distance between stars is so great. It would take centuries, to millennia, for a civilization to navigate, even to nearby stars.
However, if we have what is called a type-three civilization, their energy consumption is so great that they might be able to open up higher dimensions.
At present, most but not all physicists believe there is a good possibility that we live in ten- or eleven- dimensional space. If we can access the Planck energy, space and time becomes unstable, and wormholes begin to open up, giving us the possibility that we might use these wormholes for transportation to the stars.
Moderator at 2:02pm ET
You say in your interview on this WebShow that ours is likely not a very advanced civilization, that we are a Stage zero civilization. What characteristics would be classified as Class 3 or of the highest? What would these beings be able to do? What would they look like? Would they be composed entirely of brain-matter?
Michio Kaku at 2:04pm ET
A type one civilization controls all forms of planetary power. They control the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the ocean. A type two civilization controls the power of a star. They can manipulate and play with stars.
A type three civilization is galactic. They have colonized most of the stars in the galaxy. On this scale, we are type zero we get our energy from dead plants, i.e., oil.
We physicists believe that in a hundred to two hundred years we will attain type one status. However, to have warp drive, you must be an advanced type two, or type three, civilization.
Bryan P. at 2:05pm ET
Mr. Kaku, if high-speed interstellar travel was possible, what method do you think looks most promising? Is propulsion the only way? Are we possibly looking at this problem the wrong way?
Michio Kaku at 2:08pm ET
For sub-light speed velocities our best hope lies in laser sails and ram jet fusion engines, or, perhaps, anti-matter engines. All these technologies will take at least a century to develop, and, even then, we will only attain perhaps half the speed of light.
I believe that the first star ship may be a nanoprobe, perhaps the size of your fist, which will use nanotechnology to miniaturize its propulsion systems. To exceed the speed of light, you must necessarily drill a hole in space or compress space either way, you have to be at least type two or three civilization to exceed the speed of light.
Dan B. from eas.asu.edu at 2:08pm ET
Dr. Kaku, in Hyperspace, you assert that the laws of classical physics and quantum physics are unified when taken in 10 dimensions. Has this (untestable) theory been accepted by the physics community?
Michio Kaku at 2:11pm ET
At present, there is only one candidate for a theory which can unify all of physics. This is the ten-dimensional super-string theory. It has no rivals. No other theory can make the claim of unifying all the forces of the universe. At present, the theory cannot be tested.
However, in the next decade, new machines may be powerful enough to detect super particles which are low vibrations of the super-string.
In Geneva, we have the LHC, the Large Hadron Collider. We hope it may be possible to create lower vibrations of the super-string with this machine in this decade, and, hence, partially verify this theory. If verified, it will be the ultimate theory, the theory of everything.
Red at 2:11pm ET
What is your estimate on how many other civilizations are out there like ours, living on planets like ours.
Michio Kaku at 2:14pm ET
Professor Frank Drake estimated forty years ago that there might be about ten thousand planets in our galaxy with intelligent life. Carl Sagan re-did Drake's calculation, and estimated perhaps millions of planets may have intelligent life forms.
Since then, new data indicate that the conditions for life are much rarer in our galaxy than previously thought. Life in the galaxy must meet a stringent set of conditions, so stringent that perhaps only a few hundred planets in the galaxy have intelligent life.
However, there are trillions of other galaxies, so, therefore, I believe that the probability of other intelligent life forms in the Universe is nearly 100%.
Moderator at 2:14pm ET
Prel Freg asks: You say that these beings might consider us so primitive that they regard us as "ants" that are not even worthy of sharing technology with. But isn't it likely that they would at least consider us worthy of study? Can you comment on how they might be actually observing us, perhaps from a station on the dark side of the moon?
Michio Kaku at 2:16pm ET
Some physicists believe that we already have been visited by a type three civilization. The most efficient way to explore the galaxy is to send self-replicating robot probes to land on distant moons. Moons have no erosion or rust and the probes can last for millions of years.
These probes, like a virus, create millions of copies of themselves to land on other moons. Therefore, within 100,000 years, you can probe an entire galaxy. On our own moon, there could be a probe left over from a passing type three civilization waiting to be discovered. This was the basis of the movie 2001.
Moderator at 2:17pm ET
Dan asks: with the recent exponential advancements in science and technology do you foresee a day when man will travel faster than light and if so what do you think the time frame would be?
Michio Kaku at 2:19pm ET
I think, within a century, we will have miniature probes which can attain perhaps half the speed of light. However, to exceed the speed of light, may take thousands of years until we become a type two civilization.
We are, perhaps, a hundred years away from attaining type one status. We are perhaps several thousand years away from attaining type two status, and, perhaps, a hundred thousand years away from attaining type three status. In outer space, that is a twinkling of an eye.
Alfredo Argueta at 2:19pm ET
Of all the fascinating forecasts you made in Visions, which one do you believe will have the deepest and most lasting impact on human life?
Michio Kaku at 2:21pm ET
Perhaps the most profound prediction in my book is when we humans control our own genetic heritage. This means, for example, controlling the aging process, and being able perhaps to double or triple the human lifespan.
Within 20 years, we may have the first technologies proven in the laboratory which can begin to extend our lifespan. Within a century, this could become commonplace. If so, this will create a profound demographic and social shift in the nature of the human race.
Moderator at 2:21pm ET
Jim Long asks: what is the quantum vacuum and how does it relate to FTL travel?
Michio Kaku at 2:24pm ET
Some physicists, a minority, believe that the vacuum possesses vast quantities of energy called the"zero point" energy. The first person to call attention to the vacuum energy was Nikola Tesla. However, he could not prove that the vacuum had energy.
Zero point energy has been observed in the laboratory. This is called "the Casimir Effect." The Casimir effect is extremely small; so small that it is useless for space travel. However, a type two or three civilization might be able to harness the vacuum energy to compress space and attain warp drive.
In Scientific American magazine a few months ago, there was a detailed article about how the Casimir effect might give us warp drive. But the authors were careful to say that it would take an extremely advanced technology to harness the Casimir effect for warp drive, i.e., a type two or three civilization.
columbia.edu guy at 2:25pm ET
What do you think of UC Berkeley's SETI program, and do you feel the constant listening to signals will turn up anything of use?
Michio Kaku at 2:27pm ET
The SETI at Home project from Berkeley has harnessed almost a million pc's to search for intelligent life in the universe. Go to their web page and your pc can also be used to look for intelligent life in the universe. However, the signals they are looking for are simply too primitive to explore all the stars in the galaxy.
Plus, aliens may not broadcast on the frequency detected by SETI at Home. Therefore, I am pessimistic that they will discover intelligent life, because their equipment is too primitive. I do not believe that we should send signals in space to communicate with aliens. This could be very dangerous, unless we understand their intentions.
Russell at 2:27pm ET
You state that it will take thousands of years to attain type 2 status. Do you think that the resources on Earth will sustain humanity for that long?
Michio Kaku at 2:29pm ET
We physicists, when calculating when we will attain type two or three status, only assume that our energy consumption grows at around three percent per year. Even though this growth rate seems very small, over thousands of years, you can calculate that we will have the power of a star or even a galaxy.
The Earth as a single planet may not be able to sustain this growth over thousands of years. Therefore, we may have to terraform nearby planets in order to maintain this growth rate.
Personally, I don't believe we should have a crash program to put men on Mars. Robots are cheaper, and better. However, over thousands of years, it may become feasible to terraform Mars.
Moderator at 2:30pm ET
pituka heilbron asks: in simple terms, please, what happens with the time once we leave the Earth's atmosphere? Is there time in space?
Michio Kaku at 2:32pm ET
Yes, there is time in space. Some people have written that time does not exist. They are probably quacks. They are not working scientists; they are mainly philosophers, and amateurs.
We scientists believe that any theory should be measurable and testable. Time can be measured. Einstein's theory has been verified millions of times. Any new theory must, therefore, build on top of Einstein's theory, and not tear it down.
That's where super-string theory comes in. Super-string theory is the first major theory to improve on Einstein's theory in this century.
Douglas Thompson at 2:32pm ET
What major steps technologically does mankind have to take to attain a type one civilization?
Michio Kaku at 2:34pm ET
We will naturally attain type one status unless we pollute ourselves to death. The internet, for example, is a type one telephone system of the future. English will be the language of this type one civilization. The European Union is one piece of a type one economy.
The culture of this type one civilization unfortunately will be MTV, rap music, blue jeans, and news culture.
MikeM at 2:34pm ET
If mankind were to discover, perhaps by "listening" to signals from space, that other intelligent life definitely did exist, what do you think would be mankind's reaction?
Michio Kaku at 2:36pm ET
I think our immediate reaction would be to have a heart attack. As Arthur C. Clarke once said, "If aliens exist, or if aliens don't exist, either way, it is a frightening thought. If aliens don't exist, then we are alone, and that's very scary. If we are not alone, that's even scarier, because look at the history of what happens when different civilizations collided in the last four hundred years."
I think most people will be shocked out of their minds if we pick up a signal from an intelligent life form in space.
Moderator at 2:36pm ET
Dr. Kaku thank you for joining us today. Do you have any final thoughts?
Michio Kaku at 2:36pm ET
I would just say that for further reading, see my web page at www.mkaku.org and, also, my books "Hyperspace" and "Visons".