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Michio Kaku - What has he done?

  1. Aug 29, 2012 #1
    Dr. Kaku is an eloquent speaker for Physics and he publicized sciences and raise global awareness of controversial issues on science (like nuclear weapons, global warming, etc.) I am not questioning the validity of his popularity.

    I am just curious, what has he done on the theoretical side for Physics? Has he come up with any theory on any particular area of Physics? It feels like he went all over the place for me.

    Also he claimed he built an atom smasher which I guess was a Cyclotron in his backyard. I want to know if that's a little gimmick pulled by his advertising agent or he actually built one?

    I think it's impossible to power up a Cyclotron with house-hold consumption rate of electricity. I mean he can't pull out enough juice from those wall outlet to power up those powerful electromagnets to guide a beam of particle to smash into each other. Also how would he read the result without high-end computational methods? The data would probably be all over the place?

    Maybe he did build one, was it a successful attempt or just a fail attempt?

    I am just curious and any discussions or comments are appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2012 #2


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    Have you used Google or other search engines? That would be a good start.
  4. Aug 29, 2012 #3

    Kaku has had over 70 articles published in physics journals such as Physical Review, covering topics such as superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry, and hadronic physics.[6] In 1974, along with Prof. Keiji Kikkawa of Osaka University, he authored the first papers describing string theory in a field form.[7][8]

    Kaku is the author of several textbooks on string theory and quantum field theory.
  5. Aug 29, 2012 #4
    Yes and that is why I said his research went all over the place.
    It doesn't specifically say what he has suggested or what he has purposed. Like it doesn't say what has he added to the table of string theory that makes string theory more acceptable to the scientific community.

    I am no expert in string theory (also not a strong fan of string theory), so through reading his paper I can't really catch his point if there is one. Also at the moment I actually don't even have access to the scholar paper until I get back to school.

    Also I looked up his "atom smasher" to see if there's any practical finding from his little science fair project. There is no reliable source, it's mostly through the mouth of people instead of an actual report or photos of the actual device.
  6. Aug 30, 2012 #5
    Speaking eloquently and raising awareness is sometimes a big feat in itself.
  7. Aug 30, 2012 #6
    I do know in Physics of the Impossible, he describes in the preface that the atom smasher was built for his high school science fair.

    He gathered 400 pounds of scrap steel, wound 22 miles of copper wire and eventually built a 2.3 million electron volt betatron particle accelerator, which consumed 6 kilowatts of power (which he does say was the house's entire output). It generated a magnetic field 200,000 that of Earth's. Wikipedia says he went to Cubberly High School in Palo Alto. Beyond that, I do not know.
  8. Aug 31, 2012 #7
    That sounds missing A LOT of things. Like detectors, vacuum tube, source of particle, computers, tools to create precision within instruments and etc are missing.

    Anyways I always took it as a marketing gimmick, like a way to encourage youth by telling them possibilities are within their hands.
  9. Aug 31, 2012 #8
    That is true.

    Actually now I might have the same question for Carl Sagan. What has Carl Sagan contributed to astrophysics other than publicizing it?

    He's like one of the most inspiring scientists I can see in my time (through youtube videos.)

    I wonder if it's a trade off. I realize most of these "science celebrities" don't get enough time to devote to their research as they spend most of their time in filming/broadcasting science programs.
  10. Aug 31, 2012 #9
    Mayhaps contact him for more details, it was just from a paragraph in the preface of a book afterall, not a detailed published article.
  11. Aug 31, 2012 #10
    It does not take all those things to make a particle accelerator or to create collisions between particles. You need an electric field to accelerate a particle and a magnetic field to guide the particle. Tube televisions are particle accelerators, for example. I don't think he claimed to build a mini CERN which would include the other things you listed. . just a particle accelerator. Particle accelerators existed before computers were even invented: http://www.aip.org/history/lawrence/epa.htm. Perhaps "atom smasher" is not an accurate term for what he built, and I don't even know the details or validity behind the original claim anyway. I just think your expectations of an atom smasher are not a realistic basis for a definition.
  12. Sep 3, 2012 #11
    <<I am just curious, what has he done on the theoretical side for Physics? Has he come up with any theory on any particular area of Physics?>>

    He's a TV physicist, sort of like Lisa Randall.

    And what does "Physics of the Impossible" even mean? If someything is physically impossible then it is not physics. I'm sure he means "seemingly impossible" but did not think clearly.
  13. Sep 3, 2012 #12


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    ApplePion, please learn how to use the "quote" button. When you wish to reply to a post, please use the "quote" button at the bottom right of the post. Then you can delete anything you do not wish to include. You have been here way too long to not know how to post here.

  14. Sep 3, 2012 #13

  15. Sep 3, 2012 #14


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    Well Done!!! :approve:
  16. Sep 3, 2012 #15


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    Well, he's turned himself from a respectable physicist into a money machine that spouts nonsense on any TV show that he can get himself on.

    To be fair, I think he DOES sometimes inspire the innocent who don't know what a carnival barker he is and who may actually get interested in real physics because of the junk he spouts.
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