- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (February 20, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385542763
- ISBN-13: 978-0385542760
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 116 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth Hardcover – February 20, 2018
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“The wide popular interest in Elon Musk’s recent launch of one of his own Tesla cars into space shows the extent to which space travel has again become mass entertainment as well as, perhaps, mass aspiration. It is good timing, then, for a book by the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on the possible paths to our future as a galaxy-trotting species. . . . With admirable clarity and ease, Mr. Kaku rehearses the history of rocketry and the formation of the planets, and explains how we might colonize not only Mars but some of the rocky moons of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. . . . The book has an infectious, can-do enthusiasm.”
—Steven Poole, The Wall Street Journal
“Kaku is a practiced and very effective popularizer of science for a general audience; he's unfailingly interesting, with an unerring instinct for the most thought-provoking aspects of his various subjects. The sheer amount of technical scientific speculation in The Future of Humanity is amazing, and yet Kaku is in smooth, perfect control of it the entire time.”
—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
MICHIO KAKU is a professor of physics at the City University of New York, cofounder of string field theory, and the author of several widely acclaimed science books, including Beyond Einstein, The Future of the Mind, Hyperspace, Physics of the Future, and Physics of the Impossible. He is the science correspondent for CBS This Morning and host of the radio programs Science Fantastic and Exploration.
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What Kaku continually emphasizes is the role that science fiction and scientific prognostication can have in inspiring future generations of scientists. Since the inspiration typically takes place when young, there need to be books that, using simple language, capture the imagination and inspire young men and women toward the arduous career of science.
This is what Kaku has set out to do in The Future of Humanity. Kaku recognizes that making predictions hundreds, thousand or even millions of years into the future using the scientific understanding current in 2018 is obviously going to be widely speculative. Yes, many of these predictions will be falsified in the next fifty years.
But Kaku has not set out to write a book containing only the most reasonable predictions for the longest time span. He has instead tried to help reignite public interest in science—particle physics, astrophysics, space exploration—that Americans shared before descending into the cultural wars which have been ongoing since the 1970s.
If you think of Kaku as in the line of Isaac Asimov and H.G. Wells, who he cites frequently in the text, then you won’t be bothered by speculations like how humankind could build an intergalactic civilization. Of course, Kaku is also an accomplished scientist but, in this plainly written though highly imaginative work, he is less trying to make the most realistic predictions possible and more trying to make science as interesting as possible.
In this he succeeds quite well. If you are looking for a book that describes cutting edge science in very simple terms and could inspire the non-technical reader to a career in the sciences you will not be disappointed. However, if you want literal predictions about the future of humanity, you might choose another text.
So . . . why are we here? According to Michio Kaku Jupiter is our guardian angel, deflecting most asteroids, comets and other space clutter that could kill us. Earth is a “Goldilocks Planet”, not too hot, not cold, with an atmosphere that's no too dense and a magnetic field and an ozone layer that deflects ultra-violet rays from frying us alive. How many “Goldilocks planets are there in our galaxy? Possibly hundreds of thousands, but a lot depends on plane old luck. We have been lucky. Just last year an asteroid came within a thirty-some thousand miles of the Earth.
How do scientists know which planets are like us? They can't see them, but the Kepler and the Hubble telescopes look at the brightness of certain stars; when they dim in a certain way, it means something is blocking their light. Scientists are able to tell the size of the planet by how much it affects the light from its host star.
Kaku discusses the effect of Obama's decision to shut down the shuttle program. He was hoping private business would get involved, and they have in a big way. Elon Musk has a billion dollar contract to provision the international space station, and he has delivered supplies several times. He is planning a Mars landing by 2024; he already has a rocket whose booster can land on an ocean platform. This rocket can take us to Mars. NASA isn't quite that optimistic. They plan to put a man on Mars by 2035, using the moon as a base.
Stephen J. Hawking maintains that if we can make it through the next two hundred years and not destroy ourselves via terrorism and nuclear war or pollution we can evolve in respect to reaching the stars. A Russian scientist, Nikolai Kardashev has created a scale of civilizations: Type I uses all of the energy from the light provided by its star; Type II uses all the energy the sun produces (think fusion); Type III uses all the energy in the entire galaxy. Obviously we're not even a Type I civilization since we don't use all the sunlight the Sun provides. We're about a 0.7 civilization.
If we survive it's pretty much a given we'll have a settlement on Mars by mid century and we'll start terraforming it. It's too cold up there with hardly any atmosphere. We can warm it up by injecting methane into its atmosphere.
Scientists have also discovered several moons of Jupiter and Saturn that have water. We can use them as bases to move beyond the solar system.
Eventually, Kaku gets around to his pet theory, string theory which mathematically combines Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory. It consists of ten dimensions, but we can't prove it until we become a Type III civilization. We can chip away at it, using the Super colliders, the CERN in Switzerland which has already discovered the Higgs Boson particle, an indicator of dark matter, and a new one being built by the Japanese in conjunction with other countries. String theory will help us discover what's inside a Worm Hole, whether or not we can pass through one without being crushed. Supposedly if we can pass through a Worm Hole, we can take a short cut to the opposite side of the galaxy. String Theory also allows for the possibility of multi universes. Kaku talks about universes “popping in and out of existence”. We're looking for the stable ones. Why? Because other galaxies are racing away from us at exponential speed. If this keeps up, we're in for a “Big Freeze” and everything will die. String theory allows for us to move not just to another star, but another universe. If you're the paranoid type, stop worrying. This won't happen for billions maybe trillions of years.