The Floating University

The Universe in a Nutshell

The Physics of Everything.

MICHIO KAKU, Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at CUNY

Lesson Overview

What if we could find one single equation that explains every force in the universe? Professor Michio Kaku explores how physics could potentially shrink the science of the big bang into an equation as small as e=mc2. Physics powers every electronic device in your living room, underwrites every technological breakthrough, and thanks to advances in string theory, could allow us to escape the heat death of the universe, explore the multiverse, and unlock the secrets of existence.

In a profoundly informative and deeply optimistic discussion, Professor Kaku delivers a glimpse of where science will take us in the next hundred years, as warp drives, teleportation, inter-dimensional wormholes, and even time travel converge with our scientific understanding of physical reality. While firing up our imaginations about the future, he also presents a succinct history of physics to the present. 

How did Halley's Comet manage to start the British Empire in 1066 and lead to the most important publication in human history in 1682? What are the four ultra-powerful forces that dictate all observable phenomena in the universe and how did we find them? Why is 96% of matter in the universe undetectable? And why is the emergent field of string theory turning everything we thought we knew about physics upside down? In under an hour, Professor Kaku makes a compelling case that physics is the key to pretty much everything.

Readings

  • Course Pack: Michio Kaku, Hyperspace. (Chapters 1 - 2)

Discussion Questions

(1.) Is there any way that String Theory could be tested and scientifically validated to the same degree as Newtonian physics and Einstein's theory of relativity? By the same token, what would it take to invalidate String Theory? What criticisms of String Theory might bear out? Could a functional time machine prove or disprove elements of the theory that we can't currently observe?

(2.) What are ways that String Theory could impact other fields of study? For instance, what are the philosophical implications of a provable multiverse? 

(3.) How does String Theory affect the average person? Does the notion of a plenitude of universes affect your sense of being? If time travel and dimensional shifting become possible, should it be allowed? And if so, who should be allowed to do it? What about some of the more mundane predictions Dr. Kaku makes about advances in physics, such as the virtual reality glasses? How would such a technology affect society and your experience of daily life? 

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Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku is a leading theoretical physicist credited with co-founding the "string field theory" of physics. A popularizer of science, Dr. Kaku has written best-selling books for the general public and made numerous appearances on TV shows and documentaries. His latest best-selling work, "Physics of the Future," explores how technological advances will change daily life over the next 100 years. Dr. Kaku is currently the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York (CUNY).