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Can someone explain what Michio Kaku is talking about in this video?

  1. Aug 27, 2014 #1
    "This is Your Brain on a Laser Beam"

    Around the middle of the video he starts talking about shooting consciousness on a laser beam into the heavens. What would be the point of that? I finished watching the video and I'm like "WTF is this guy talking about?"
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2014 #2


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    Yes, "WTF" is the appropriate response to almost all of what Kaku has to say these days. There are numerous threads on this forum slamming him. You should NOT pay any attention to him.
  4. Aug 27, 2014 #3
    One of those guys who feels the need to embellish science to make it appealing to the masses. Maybe he just found an effective money making strategy and doesn't care about the science, but either way, he's not helping the scientific case.
  5. Aug 27, 2014 #4
    What's the problem?

    I'm surprised anyone here would have problems with Michio Kaku's video. He believes that human consciousness can be described as the neural connections of the brain (no soul), and that a full description of the brain (all connections) is possible. Very reductionistic. The rest is standard sci-fi, and is explicitly labeled as such-- "travel" the universe by transmitting the encoding/description of your brain, in this case encoding the info on a laser beam pointed at your destination. A receiver at the destination would capture the data, and a robot brain would be programmed/constructed to recreate or approximate the original brain. They make a copy of you.

    No, we can't do it now, which is why he repeatedly called the idea "science fiction". But there's nothing physically impossible about it, either.

    Michio Kaku was one of the early developers of string theory in the '70's, has written 2-3 textbooks ("Strings, Conformal Fields, and M-Theory") on the subject and published many papers in professional journals. Rather than retire when he began getting older, he began to popularize science. He's very good at it, when people who don't know him from a bag of cats aren't snipping at him.
  6. Aug 27, 2014 #5
    Hi Wayland. Welcome to Physics Forums.

    So, I guess you personally agree with what Kaku says in the "Einstein" PBS program, to wit

    1. Gravity is not something that pulls you toward another object, it is something that pushes you toward it.

    2. The difference between Special Relativity and General Relativity is that SR does not include accelerations, and GR does.

  7. Aug 27, 2014 #6


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    When people who can't properly evaluate the nonsense he spews think he's telling actual facts, it does no good for science. He WAS an excellent scientist in his day but he is now a grandstanding popularizer of the worst sort. I'm confident that if he read this he would just laugh all the way to the bank.
  8. Aug 27, 2014 #7
    Ubiquitous Fault, That

    As opposed to every.last.print.article that has to anthropomorphize, usually in the title? It's universally disgusting.
  9. Aug 27, 2014 #8


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    Sounds like he got the idea from the movie Brain Storm, which used a laser based device to record the high bandwidth data of human thoughts. In that movie, it was also possible thorugh some type of miracle in compression, to send / receive that data over an acoustic coupler modem (about 300 baud).
  10. Aug 27, 2014 #9


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    Uh ... what are you talking about?
  11. Aug 28, 2014 #10
    While I agree that serious Science students should be very skeptical of much of what Mr Kaku usually presents, I also think it is very short-sighted to denigrate the man or cheapen what he is attempting to do. One has only to recall that Carl Sagan was equally shunned by much of the "serious science community" and many now turn their ire to Neil DeGrasse-Tyson for grandstanding and perverting "real science" in the Cosmos reboot.

    Hard Science is a necessity but so are the people that try to bridge the gap to "the man on the street" and stimulate interest and imagination. Those people vote for funding..... or NOT.

    More importantly, they make up the higher percentage of society and one must decide if they would rather live in a society that has sketchy ideas about Science, but values it highly, or one dismissing Science as guess work or worst of all, lies, just so they can dismiss it and get on with some mysticism that makes them feel empowered and comfortable.

    There is considerable evidence that many, if not most, scientists once read Sci-Fi which stimulated them to enter the field and many even made something that was once science fiction, a reality such as the Ion Engine.

    In today's anti-science environment, make no mistake, people like Mr Tyson and Mr Kaku serve an important purpose. Just know where to draw the line.
  12. Aug 28, 2014 #11
    I think the answer is "No"; nobody can explain what Michio Kaku is talking about in this video because he does not know what he is talking about.

    Physicists (e.g., Feynman) have actively charged against non-physicists speculating in physics concepts. Going the other way, MK is disclosing an alarming ignorance and tone-deafness to the nature of consciousness.

    Viewers would be better served to skip his magical mystery shows and books instead studying things like A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (George Berkeley), or Critique of Pure Reason (Immanuel Kant), or Principles of Psychology (William James). These are the thinkers whose relationships to the study of consciousness are comparable to Feynman's relationship to the study of physics.
  13. Aug 28, 2014 #12


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    Tyson does not spew nonsense. Comparing them is inappropriate.
  14. Aug 28, 2014 #13
    I agree. I thought Tyson's Cosmos series was wonderful.

  15. Aug 29, 2014 #14
    While it was great televison, I guess you guys didn't mind Neil donning sunglasses for the Big Bang (which incidentally was characterized as an explosion even if only by an implication that I don't recall being corrected).

    Don't get me wrong, I liked the series almost as much as the original. What I am trying to point out is that there do exist detractors of Mr Tyson and many for Carl Sagan (especially before he died), and let's face it, as soon as an otherwise reasonable scientist decides to delve into QM, let alone any of the variations on String Theory, a large part of the more conservative community starts looking at them sideways, often rotating a forefinger about the ear.

    Bottom line I flat out disagree that it is inappropriate to compare and contrast and I still maintain that it is important to stimulate interest in Science. The details can be sorted later.
  16. Aug 30, 2014 #15
    "shooting consciousness on a laser beam into the heavens"
    This seems to be OK, with some improvements. Like mixing
    music and comics in the beam, otherwise the travel-weary could kill you.
  17. Aug 30, 2014 #16
    If all psychology is basically biology,then I think Michio Kaku is right.
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