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Michio Kaku

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Michio Kaku in 2012.
The poetry of reality
Science
Icon science.svg
We must know.
We will know.
A view from the
shoulders of giants.

Michio Kaku is a noted theoretical physicist, best-selling author, popularizer of science and media personality. He is a co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory). Once an active physicist, he seems to have stopped publishing technical work in the early 2000s. His most cited papers date back to the 1970s and '80s.[1] Kaku is popular in mainstream media because of his knowledge and his accessible approach to presenting complex subjects in science. Unfortunately, when talking about a subject outside of his expertise, he tends make authoritative yet ill-informed comments. While his technical writings are confined to theoretical physics, his public speaking and media appearances cover a broad range of topics, from wormholes and time travel to more esoteric subjects such as the Kardashev scale.

He also hosts the show Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible (based on his book of the same name) on the Science Channel which debates the likelihood of science fiction tropes coming into reality. In doing so, he displays his ignorance of almost all branches of science outside of physics. He also hosts a public radio show (Exploration) which follows the same lines, with a smattering of geopolitics thrown in.

Unorthodox views[edit]

Though Kaku is a qualified physicist working on reconciling quantum mechanics and relativity through string theory, he tends to be a bit of a crank who, somehow, has managed in recent years to appear as an "expert" on nearly every scientific documentary ranging from cosmology to the environment.

When he isn't deciding what he is an expert on (and it does make one wonder how much time he spends on it), he is busy with his Science of the Impossible aimed at Star Trek fans who want to know how phasers "work,"[2] his cameo appearances on random History Channel shows, and the Science Channel series based on one of his woo-istic books (which he flogs heavily on his radio show).

UFOs[edit]

In August 2010, during a TV interview,[3] Kaku has some unorthodox opinions about UFOs. He said that 95% can be easily identified, but the remaining 5% are truly unidentified and "can't be dismissed." He also implied that witnesses in positions of authority are somehow more reliable, which doesn't stand up to scrutiny.[4] He also stated that aliens might come from a different dimension but is more sensible than David Icke generally.[5]

Nuclear energy[edit]

Kaku has a history of spreading anti-nuclear falsehoods based mainly on fear. In the 90s, he spread myths about plutonium toxicity and organized protests against the launch of the Cassini probe on the grounds that it was powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator containing plutonium. He predicted dire consequences for launch failure, which obviously didn't happen.[6] These predictions did not take into account the fact that several accidents involving spacecraft carrying nuclear power sources happened in the past and none of them had significant impact.

After the nuclear accident at Fukushima, he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes, where he claimed that the accident would "impact all of humanity" and has "unspeakable consequences," and made a number of other overblown predictions. The program called him a "leading nuclear scientist."[7] However, his predicting the accident's legacy has a grain of truth in that it undermines public confidence in nuclear power and delaying planned development. He also made blatantly false claims about the core of Chernobyl's Unit 4 core still being molten.[citation needed]

It should be noted, however, that Kaku is only opposed to nuclear fission power. He expressed his fondness of fusion power in a recent book titled The Future of Humanity.

Books[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Michio Kaku's publications on INSPIRE-HEP
  2. According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, a hand phaser contains a sarium krellide power cell. Aren't you glad you asked?
  3. Michio Kaku: UFOs Are Real, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show
  4. See for example this thread in the BAUT forum.
  5. Michio Kaku On Aliens On Physics
  6. Dr. Michio Kaku's Speech on Cassini
  7. A perfect lover has no memory: Michio Kaku rant