tv QA Michio Kaku CSPAN August 26, 2019 3:07pm-4:09pm EDT
and i did not me to call him a loser. [laughter] and i tell him i'm sorry. senator, i have a schedule here, he is in the oval and does not have anything on his schedule. but it you plug-in it can talk to him yourself. [laughter] that's the job of the president. whether they like it or not, the personal relationships matter. thatncer: also at discussion, former house majority leader and former governor's jim hodges of south carolina and george allen of virginia. watch the entire conversation on the future of representative democracy. tonight at 930 eastern, here on c-span. wisconsin congressman sean duffy says he is stepping down. he made the announcement today on facebook saying after 8.5 years in office, he is leaving capitol hill to focus on his family. his baby, due in late october, has a heart condition that needs -- that he needs to focus on. the congressman's last day will
be september 23. ♪ brian: dr. michio kaku, here is a piece of video of you on this network in 1979. michio: if you look at the recent government reports concerning three-mile island, the government now concedes that one out of 10 people will eventually die of cancer in the three-mile island area. brian: do you remember that time almost 40 years ago and have you changed in your thinking? michio: yes. i remember that very vividly.
i'm a theoretical physicist and i work with the theories of einstein and quantum theory. the three mile island accident happened, media was saying we need a scientist, we need a scientist to talk about that to talk about that the american people. i the media contacted me and sent myself, this is what i do for living. i'm a physicist. i said to myself i will get on national television and national radio because the situation demands it. not because i want to do it but because people had to know, the dangers, the positives, the negatives of energy, one of the big questions of the age. that is how i backed into becoming a media person. brian: you say in your book that there was a teacher in second grade that had an impact on your future. michio: i will never forget.
she walked in the class she said and god so loved the earth that he put the earth just right of the sun, not too far that the oceans will freeze but just right from the sun. now, i was floored. i was in second grade. this was a scientific principle with this with religious interpretation. i said that is right. if we were too close, the oceans would boil, if we were too close, the oceans would freeze. we are in the goldilocks zone of the sun. now, of course we have seen 4000 planets orbiting other stars and almost all of them are too close or too far from the sun. so you have two points of view, either god exists and still so loves the earth or we have a crapshoot. brian: what do you think? michio: now that we have been so many planets, 4000 of them, there are billions upon billions of planets. on average, every single star you see at night has a planet going around it. every single star on average that it is indisputable that most of them were outside the
goldilocks on. - zone. you can still believe in god but that is not an argument that clinches the deal. brian: i wanted to ask you about a bunch of obvious things that you write about, what is a planet? michio: a planet is a mud ball that goes around a star. i say that because it does not release light of its own. it is dark, it doesn't have life of its own. it orbits around the sun gaining energy and we think planets are very interesting because they could have life. that is how we got started. even our solar system we think the planets may harbor some form of life. maybe microbial life. so we look at planets, we look at stars to find where the plants are but we focus on the planets because that is the habitat for life in the universe. brian: what is a star? michio: a star is a gigantic solar furnace.
it is a ball of hydrogen gas that releases energy by converting hydrogen into sunlight. a star is in some sense a hydrogen bomb. it will face the same equations of einstein. e=mc2. brian: what is a comet? michio: a comet is a dirty ice ball that was around in the solar system. they are only 10 or 20 miles across. they aren't very big. they're basically made out of ice remnants of the original , solar system which we think surrounded the sun but now orbit in a disk. brian: what is the difference between a meteor and a meteorite? michio: that flash of light that you see was an across the sky is caused by a rock that burns up in the atmosphere and that is called a meteor.
either the block itself or the streak of light. however, once it hits the ground, it becomes a mineral. we called a meteorite. if the meteor which has fallen from the sky, what is a galaxy? michio: a galaxy consist of hundreds of stars left over from the creation of the universe, the big bang. it looks like a gigantic disk of stars, our galaxy for example is the milky way galaxy and the nearest galaxy to us is the andromeda galaxy and we think there are about a hundred billion galaxies in the visible universe. believe it or not that means we can actually count the number of stars in the visible universe. a hundred billion galaxies, a hundred billion stars per galaxy so that is the number of stars in the visible universe. a hundred billion times a hundred billion. brian: what is an asteroid?
michio: an asteroid is left over from the creation of the solar system. we're talking about debris that extends from mars out to jupiter. we think it is a failed planet, a planets between mars and jupiter that never quite condensed or maybe got too close to jupiter and got broken up. brian: so if you had to pick another place to live outside of the earth, where would you go? michio: i would go to another planet. we have looked at all the planets so far. none of them are exactly earthlike, venus we once thought was tropical. many science fiction stories had astronauts sunbathing on the beaches of venus. we now know venus is our evil twin. just like the earth, closer to the sun, the temperatures are 900 degrees fahrenheit. that is above the melting point of lead and tin. if you were to walk on the surface of venus your feet would sink into molten metal. you don't want to go to venus. mars is the closest.
it is a rocky planet. it is a frozen desert but it is the closest planet we have. to the earth. but further out, the moons of saturn and jupiter look very interesting. one of the moons of jupiter is europa. it has a liquid ocean underneath the ice covered, who would have have thought you could have that a liquid ocean whose volume is large than the oceans of earth, going around a distant planet, jupiter. nasa wants to put a submarine under the ice to look for life forms under the ice cover. brian: we talked about your second-grade teacher. do you remember when you first got interested in science? michio: i remember that very distinctly. i was eight years old. everyone was talking about the fact that a great scientist had just died. i will never forget they flashed a picture of his desk on the newspapers and the caption says something like this. this is the unfinished manuscript from the greatest
scientist of our time. i was eight years old. i said to myself why couldn't he finish it? what is so hard that the greatest scientist couldn't finish it? it was a homework assignment. why did he ask his mother? what could be so hard that he could not answer it? why didn't he ask his mother? what could be so hard that he could not finish it? i went to the library and found of his name was albert einstein. that book was the unified field theory. the theory that would allow us to 'read the mind of god'. i said to myself that is for me. i want to be part of this grand expedition to finish that book. michio: today i can read that book. i can actually see all of the dead ends that einstein pursued. we actually think we have it, it is called string theory. i am one of the founders of the subject. a cofounder of string field theory. we think we can complete a book
that einstein set into motion, the theory of everything. there is even an oscar-winning movie called the theory of everything. brian: go back to your childhood, where were you born? what were your parents doing at the time? michio: my grandparents came to this country about 100 years ago. they were from japan. my grandfather was part of the cleanup operation in san francisco after the san francisco earthquake. so my family has a long history in california but in 1942, because they were japanese-americans there were locked up at a relocation camp for four years behind machine gun and barbed wire. in 1946, they finally got out but they were penniless so they settled in palo alto which is now ground zero for silicon valley. back then it was all apple orchards and alfalfa fields. that's where i grew up in a farm like environment in what is now
called silicon valley. brian: what did your parents do after they got out of the camp? michio: there was nothing for them to do but menial jobs. their money was confiscated, they were broke. however, there was a certain cachet to being a japanese gardener. so my father became a rather successful gardener. he wanted me to take over the business. i tried gardening for a while and after that i said no way. i have to find another way to make a living. so when i was in high school i decided i have to do something. i went to my mom and said can i have permission to build an atom smasher in the garage? a 2.3 million electron volt betatron particle accelerator. my mom stared at me and said sure, why not. and don't forget to take out the garbage. so i took out the garbage and got 22 miles of copper wire and
transformer steel and i built the atom smasher in my mom's garage. i blew out every single circuit breaker in the house every time i turned it on. my poor mother must have said to herself, why couldn't i have a son who plays basketball, maybe if i buy him a baseball. and why can't he find a nice japanese girlfriend? why does he have to build these machines in the garage? but that was a turning point because of the science fair projects i did in high school, i earned the attention of an atomic scientist. edward teller. edward teller pretty much took me under his wing. arranged for me to get a scholarship to harvard. he knew exactly what i was doing. i didn't have to explain to him what antimatter was, what an eightcelerator was, what -- what an accelerator was,
what a betatron was. he knew immediately. he arranged for me for to get a scholarship so that started my life as a physicist. brian: how did you meet him? michio: he came to albuquerque, new mexico for the national science fair. he was in the habit of recruiting young scientist. he went to the national science fair. i was actually on television with him in 1963 in albuquerque at the national science fair. when i graduated from harvard he interviewed me for a graduate fellowship but at that point he was very clear. he said i am looking for people who want to design hydrogen warheads. your physics will be very valuable designing new and better hydrogen warheads. he offered me a scholarship. he said los alamos, livermore, m.i.t., you name it, we can arrange for you to work there. but, you know, my interests began to veer off in the direction of when i was a child, wondering what was einstein's unfinished theory? i wanted to work on an explosion bigger than the hydrogen bomb. i wanted to work on the big
bang, the creation of the universe itself. for me, a hydrogen bomb was a footnote. i wanted to work on the creation of the universe. brian: here is edward teller. this video goes back to 1974. [video clip] [video] >> one of the seismic events that convinced me to work on nuclear methods was the speech. the day after hitler's invaded the low lands, he said it is the duty of the scientists to contribute the weapons that are needed for the defense of freedom. brian: do you agree? michio: that is a point that he stressed to me directly. he said look, i recruiting for what the new york times later calls the star wars scholarship. this scholarship propelled the brightest young minds in america from high school and college
into los alamos to create the star wars program. now we know he had a checkered history, many of the early designs did not work for the star wars program but that was the vision he had, he always had a very clear mission that science should be used in the interest of national security. those times are different from today, we had a sputnik moment. in 1957, when sputnik went up, it was practically your patriotic duty to use science in the interest of america because the russians will one day orbit hydrogen bombs. not just sputnik. but hydrogen bonds will orbit earth. and the homeland will be endangered. that is why a whole generation of young kids became scientists and engineers and technicians. it was the so-called sputnik becauseit was the so-called sputnik moment. brian: when you were growing up, when did you discover you have the brain to understand this stuff?
michio: when i was a kid, i read about einstein and my favorite quote from einstein was a theory can't be explained to a child than theory is probably worthless. meaning that every great theory has a picture behind it that children can understand, newton talked about things moving in space, friction, the motion of bodies, einstein talked about clocks and meter sticks and rocketships things that children could understand. and yes, there are books trying to explain space time to children. i said to myself well, it is a i said to myself, if the great ideas are all based on pictures and you understand those , pictures then mathematics is bookkeeping. it is complicated bookkeeping, you have to learn how to do the bookkeeping of course but it is bookkeeping. it is the physical principle, the concept that makes everything move.
when einstein was 16, when he was 16 he found that principle. when he was 16 years old he asked himself the question, can you outrace a light beam? now we would say that is a stupid question. mean, outrace a light beam? it took him 10 years to 16 to 26 and he finally found the answers and he changed world history. he found that you cannot outrace a light beam. that is a children's question. i said to myself, i can understand these children's questions. i just have to learn the mathematics. but it is the principle that is involved. today we know the speed of light is the ultimate velocity in the universe. einstein is the cop on the block. and he figured that out starting at the age of 16. so all great theories have a physical principle behind it. that children can visualize. the-as youack to
went through that process, what as you beganstones to gather that knowledge. and you have people that said, if you want to do this, you have to go here, who else had an impact on you? michio: a lot of people tried to give me advice when i was in high school but i knew that most of the advice was wrong. i tell kids today that you have to have a role model. because the wheel has been invented already. why would you have to reinvent the wheel if you have to become a sports figure or a movie star, the wheel has been invented. find somebody you admire, look at their life history, follow the path. so i said to myself, i want to , become a physicist. a theoretical physicist, i read about einstein's life so i knew exactly what i had to do and at what age of my life. when do i have to get a phd? when do i have to become a professor? when do i have to start to big work on some physical concepts? it was no mystery to me. so many young kids come up here because they get bum advice from
their high school advisor. they want them to a trade school or learn something that is a little bit better than pumping gas. so i said to myself, tell the kids, find a role model. the wheel has been invented already. brian: was teller your role model? michio: no, it was einstein. because teller made a very big pitch for me to design weapons and for me, at that point in my life i realized that the basic -- that is engineering. the basic physics of hydrogen warheads is well known, well-established, as you know, china and developing nations got the hydrogen bomb practically on the first try. so, it was an engineering problem. i'm a physicist. i wanted to look at the physical concept of new undiscovered things like why the big bang -- why did the big bang take place? what was the energy source of the big bang, why did it bang to begin with? these are questions of cosmic importance that are far beyond the engineering of simply assembling a hydrogen warhead.
but again, why were you able to figure it out, when most people are drowning in all this language when they would be back in high school? michio: i think we have a high school system that stresses memorization, drudgery and does not encourage the bright students to come up. for example, in asia they had the expression the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. so if you are the oddball, if you are steve jobs or bill gates, you get hammered down. in america we had the expression -- the squeaky wheel gets the grease. now, i was the squeaky wheel. i wanted to get the attention of my teachers in high school. that is why i built the atom smasher. as i found out most of my , teachers could not help me but i wanted to do it because i said to myself this is something that is doable. i just have to get the basic equipment. the basic physics i understood. and so it was not such a big , deal for me to build an atom
smasher. brian: what did you do with it? michio: i turned it on. the goal was to create antimatter. that was the whole thrust of the science fair project. i photographed antimatter. it comes naturally from a source called sodium 22. i put that in a cloud chamber and put it in a magnetic yield field and the tract of anti-electrons bent in the wrong direction. electrons bend this way, antimatter bends the opposite way in a magnetic field. i took beautiful pictures, pictures that are research quality they tell me. i won a grand prize at the national science fair. i will never regret doing a science experiment. that took me from a gardener's kid to getting a scholarship to harvard and then beginning to work on the unified field theory. that is how it started. brian: what did the rest of the kids think of you? michio: they thought i was nuts. of course.
the teachers that i had to work with -- i told them i had to cut transformer steel. i had to glue copper wire and they helped me, but they did not know what i was doing. they just knew here is this young kid that needs to cut 400 pounds of steel and line 22 miles of copper wire and i did it on the high school football field. brian: how big was atom smasher? michio: it was about this big, it consumed six kilowatts of power. the capacitor bank was used because it had to store six kilowatts of power and it gave us this tremendous crackling sound when i turned it on. the magnetic field was so powerful that in principle, it would pull the fillings out of your teeth if you got too close to it. you had to be careful, it was a hammer anything like that. it would literally ran a hammer
from across the room and flinging toward you. that happens with mri machines today because they too have the magnetic field of about 10,000. now today, we have a big one. a big one outside geneva, switzerland. that is huge. that is basically my little machine scaled up to the size of a city. that is the leading scientific instrument in the world today. outside geneva. brian: why didn't we build it? michio: well, we had designs for the supercollider to be built outside of dallas, texas in the 1990's. then, on the last day of hearings, costs were rising and congress wanted to know if they should keep on budgeting the supercollider and they canceled it. they give us a billion dollars to dig the hole, a second billion to fill the hole. that is the wisdom of the united states congress. $2 billion to dig and fill a hole.
now, why did we cancel it? in the last day of hearings one congressman was asking the physicists, if we will find god with your machine, if so, i will vote for it. so, that physicist was paralyzed. they said something like, we will find the higgs boson. but you could hear all the jaws hit the floor of the united states congress. $10 billion for another subatomic particle. the vote was taken and the next day it was canceled. since then, physicists have bat our heads against the wall wondering how we should have answered that question. will we find god with this machine? brian: what would you have said? michio: i would have said, god -- whatever signs and symbols you ascribed to the deity, the
supercollider will take us as close as possible to his greatest creation, genesis. this is a genesis machine. it will re-create on a microscopic scale the most glorious event in the history of the earth. ryan: was this the same thing that happened in switzerland? michio: that's right, the very same machine is in switzerland. we are hoping it will find dark matter. which is the next form of matter. but our machine was canceled because we did not know how to talk the language of the average taxpayer. that was a lesson. we have to understand where the taxpayer is. in the old days, we would go to congress and say one word, russia. congress would whip out their checkbook and say how much? those days are gone.
brian: i want to show some video of you in 1997 saying strong things about nasa. michio: i am here to save the space program from nasa bureaucrats. nasa bureaucrats are trying to fabricate new laws of physics that i have never seen before in any of my textbooks. in any of the books that i have published for phd students. if any of these engineers were to send that report to me i would flunk them. brian: why did you feel so strongly? michio: i believe in the space program. but, i think we need to do it safely. why would the taxpayers turn against the space program? when we lost the shuttle we came within a hair's breadth of losing the space shuttle. americans were saying enough is enough. seven astronauts perishing because some bureaucrat authorized the launch of that missile. nasa wanted to launch a mission.
mission which would give us gorgeous amounts of information about saturn. with 17 pounds of plutonium. this split the scientific community. on one hand, we wanted this to orbit saturn and give us great photographs. on the other hand, if that rocket were to blow up, nasa's own computer program estimated that some of the plutonium could go to disney world. think about that. if you are a taxpayer and you realize that this rocket to saturn all of a sudden caused the evacuation of disney world and you had to cancel your vacation and cross orlando, florida off the tourist map you would get really angry. i said to myself, it is not worth it. chances are it will be a success. chances are we'll go to saturn and get glorious photographs. which is what happened. -- to myself, it -- i said to myself, it is a gamble.
do we want to take that gamble and perhaps lose the space program. i love the space program so much that you have to save it from the nasa bureaucrats. their attitude was launch the sucker. brian: you say in your book that 544 humans have been in space. 18 of those have died. what do those numbers mean to you? michio: it means that 1% of the time you don't come back. people have asked me, would i want to go into space knowing that 1% of the time i'm not going to come back? these people are test pilots. they are experienced astronauts. they go through the training. they have taken courses. they know the odds. it is 1%. we are 60 years into the space age and we have not got that number down below 1% misfire. to mars it is even worse. 30%. 30% of our space probes never reach mars. as elon musk said, he would love to be the first person on mars,
but he does not want to be there on impact. i agree with that. we forget. space is not a sunday picnic. 1% of the time our rockets blow up. brian: in 2010 you were here. you are on our program called three-hourt is a program and it is available for our audience to go back and listen to. three hours of you going into some detail on some of the things that we are talking about. it would add information for people who want to find out more. arthur c. clarke, this is from 1964, i want you to put him in the context. a little bit of video. what about the day after tomorrow? say the year 2000. it will be possible in that age for a man to conduct his business from tahiti just as
well as he could from london. i am serious when i suggest that one day we may have brain surgeons in edinburgh operating on patients in new zealand. brian: how is he doing on his predictions? michio: he is right on the money. now we have internet. we have telemedicine. doctors in one place can do fact,y, using robots in even beyond what he said -- and they can handle robots on the others of the earth. we have robots at duke university that communicate with robots in kyoto. different operations that you can do in duke university, you can also do in kyoto. if anything, i think he underestimated the power of the internet. and he mentioned being able to communicate anywhere on planet earth. guess what, elon musk unveiled a plan to create a planetary internet. thousands of many satellites. thousands of satellites, so you
are at the top of everest, there you are downloading the kardashians. today, you have to have a tower kardashians. today, you have to have a tower next to mount everest. but if satellites, thousands of mini satellites orbit the earth, exactly what he said could become a reality. brian: what does a theoretical physicist do when he has free time? michio: for einstein it was playing the violin. it was a time for him to think back at his work and to rethink his strategy. he also liked sailing. for me, i am a professor. i realize that i like to teach. i can bore 20 kids teaching a course. if i'm on radio or television, i can bore 20 million kids. i say to myself that is an opportunity to touch the minds
of young people. whenever they interview a nobel prize-winning scientist, i ask them, when was it that spark of science began to germinate? they always say when i was 10, 10 is that magic year. you have that epiphany. you went to the planetarium. you saw your first telescope. you've seen the moon or the rings of saturn. you saw a microbe in a microscope. that epiphany stays with you for the rest of your life. when you are elderly and tired and have all of these obligations, it is like a well. you draw water from that well. you remember. you remember that epiphany you had when you were 10 years old. that keeps you going. brian: do you play the violin? michio: no. i like to do figure skating. brian: how long have you done that? michio: for the last 15 years.
when i was a kid i liked to watch it on tv. to do something like that is complicated. i realized that it is nothing but physics. if you are a physicist you understand center of gravity, moment of inertia, you understand the basics of figure skating. i said to myself, i could learn that. if you see me spinning and jumping at rockefeller square, you know it is me on the ice. brian: if i were 19 years old and i wanted to see you in a classroom, where would i find you? and why would i be in your classroom and how large would that classroom be today? michio: normally i teach graduate students. at that level, we're talking about a phd program. you are only talking about maybe five or 10 students, because these people are rearing to go and they are doing phd level work. the city university of new york has so many young people at the
freshman level, unwashed, raw students at the freshman level that they said, look, you have to teach freshman. so i decided to teach astronomy. i was shocked. i looked at the astronomy final and it was memorize all the moons of saturn. memorize all the moons of jupiter. that was the final exam. i said to myself, i don't even know the moons of saturn. i don't even know the moons of jupiter. this is a worthless exam. i wanted to know planetary evolution. where stars come from, how they die. how they mature. i threw out the curriculum and decided to import nasa videotapes about going to the planets. and began to talk about planetary evolution. planets obey certain basic laws. they are born, they mature, they die. you can teach these concepts because you can teach principles to children, especially pectoral principles. and it said that is why i decided to take this astronomy
course and make it modern. kids thee up to 500 , course is bursting at the seams. because people have a thirst. if presented well, people will gravitate toward it. when i first did television people said that "science does not sell on tv." i said, that cannot be right. a million people subscribe to scientific american. another million subscribe to discover magazine. when there is a science special you can actually get 5 million people to tune into that. there is an untapped audience there. off wen when cable took , found it. yes, there really are 5-10,000,000 people out there that will tune into a science program if, and only if, it is presented well. with special effects. with a potent storytelling. people will gravitate toward it. because we are born scientists. we were born wondering why the
sun shines. brian: how often have you been involved in a television special? michio: i have worked with bbc, the science channel, and talking heads, of course. i regularly do talking heads for different science specials. brian: you do radio, how often? michio: i'm on every week. they can go to my website, or on facebook. we are up to 3 million fans on facebook. on twitter we are up to 600,000. and they can find my radio schedule. my radio program airs in about 60 cities across the united states. it is commercial radio. think about it, commercials, we are not talking about public radio. we are talking about commercial radio. the program is a big success. it means that, if presented well, people have a thirst, a real thirst to understand what is happening in the world. but it is never presented well. it is always presented as memorization, as learning stupid
you can forgetes the next day. brian: here is a video of him talking about life expectancy. i want your input on this. >> people say you take these supplements and other bills, that will enable you to live hundreds of years -- the answer is no, that is just to get a bridge two. and it is not far away. 10 to 15 years from now we will add more than one year every year to your life expectancy. brian: he has a plan for himself i think. michio: that is right. host: how many pills does he take a day? michio: i think he takes several hundred. i talked to him once and it was a considerable number. he talks about two kinds of immortality. digital immortality. silicon valley is already offering a version of that. and then there is biological immortality. digital immortality takes everything known about you off the internet.
-- on the internet. your digital footprint, credit card records, movies you have seen, what wines you like to drink, your pictures, your video, and creates a profile which will last forever. so when you go to the library of the future, you will not pick out a book about winston churchill, you will talk to winston churchill. you will talk to a hologram and that hologram will have all the mannerisms knowledge, anecdotes, , everything known about winston churchill. and you will talk to him. i would not mind talking to einstein. i would love to have an opportunity to talk to an einstein based on everything that is known about the man. we could be digitized. there is a silicon valley already offering to do this. and our great great great great great great granddaughter who out who was her
great great great great great grandfather because we have all been digitized. to paraphrase bill clinton, is this really you? it all depends on how you define "you." if we define you as a biological entity, then this is a tape recorder. very sophisticated. but if you are the subtotal of all your memories, emotions, feelings, if that is you, then yes, in some sense you could live forever because you have been digitized. brian: i want your definition for artificial intelligence. michio: it is a machine that can do anything that a human can do. let's be blunt about this, right now if you compare artificial , intelligence to animals, our most advanced robot has the cockroach.f a a retarded, lobotomized, slow cockroach. our robots can barely walk across the room. they can barely sweep the floor or turn a valve. but i foresee a time in the
future when they will be as smart as a mouse, being able to run around. as smart as a rat, a rabbit. eventually as smart as a cat or a dog. but by the time they reach the level of a monkey, they could become dangerous. that is at the end of the century. because monkeys have a self-awareness, they know they are not human. they know they are monkeys. now, dogs are confused. you see, dogs think that we are the top dog and they are the underdog and that we are part of the same dog tribe. the dog pack. dogs are confused about who they are. but monkeys, they know they are not human. once robots became as smart as monkeys, then we should put a chip in their brain to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts. but that is not for many decades to come. brian: did you have brothers and sisters? michio: yes. one older brother and one younger brother. brian: what did they end up
doing? michio: my younger brother is a cardiologist. he is still in private practice. college we all went to and we all did what our parents dreamed of. they wanted us to be successful. brian: what does your mother do? we talked about your father. michio: they passed away. my father was a gardener, my mother was a maid. because, you know we were always , strapped for money. i still remember my parents arguing about money. and where should the money go. because we were flat broke during that time. i still remember my mother talking about college. college is the key to everything. and i had this vision that college was this city in the sky. i still have that vision that there is a city in the sky called college, because that is the way my mother put it. then i realized that she was onto something.
yes college is a gateway. , a gateway to success in modern society. brian: how much of your education was paid for in scholarships? michio: that is right. i got accepted to harvard. a scholarship that edward teller founded. so i was a beneficiary of that. for my phd program, there was money from the national science foundation. luckily, even though struggling artists have a hard time scraping together their next meal, in science there is funding. the national science foundation, the department of energy, will fund enterprising young phd students. that is a good thing. there is a brain drain into the united states because there is funding. both private and entrepreneurs, silicon valley billionaires will sponsor startups. a brain drain into
the united states at the present time. brian: go back to your 10-year-old example -- by the way, do you have children? michio: yes. two. brian: what kind of work are they in? michio: the older daughter is a brain doctor. she is a neurologist. she is a professor now. a professor at boston university. the other followed a different road. she is a french pastry cook. she went to an exclusive school where they train french pastry cooks. she has done very well in manhattan. brian: your mother said she wanted you to find a nice japanese woman, is that you have found? michio: well, my second wife is japanese. my mother finally got her dream. however, i should point out that my mother eventually came down with alzheimer's. it is very unfortunate that she could not even recognize me towards the very end.
she could not even recognize herself. i thought that life is so unfair. you struggle so hard when you are young and you are always poor, always wondering where the next check is going to come from. and then you lose your memories. you lose your sense of who you are, who your children are. sometimes life can be very unfair. brian: you are 71? michio: yeah. brian: what are you thinking about, how long are you going to teach? what happens to the brain? michio: i realize that the body does decay. but the brain decays much slower. you can be as sharp as a whistle even in your old age. einstein was publishing important papers even to the last days of his life. now when you get older, you say , to yourself, do i want to write lots of papers that are going to get published but are
worthless? you know they mean nothing but dotting the i's and crossing the t's. i would rather work on big problems now. of course, there is a danger that nothing is going to come out of these big problems, but i would rather work on a big problem and fail than a lot of little problems and succeed. brian: from a standpoint of financial accomplishments, what categories have been the most lucrative for you? in other words teaching, , documentaries, radios, programs, speaking, books? michio: when i first started to write books people told me that you are never going to get rich writing a book. because of the fact that there is cutthroat competition. and as bill clinton knows you , can make more money doing speaking at events and keynoting conferences and stuff like that. and that is something that i enjoy. it is something i enjoy because you get to engage people. and you talk about things that are on their mind.
things that are troubling them. so i get invited to keynote conferences. brian: is that the best economically? michio: probably. if you take a look at bill clinton and george w. bush and people, they are on the circuit. in fact, i bump into them regularly. i have been on several programs speaking with bill clinton. brian: how often do you teach your class with 500 kids in it? michio: they said that whenever i have to go out and keynote, i disrupt the university. i have to find a substitute teacher. i have to make sure that the grad students can grade their papers. it is rather disruptive, so they made a deal with me. they said if we cut your slack , so that you have more time for speaking, you can spread the good name of the university. the university benefits. you benefit. it was a win-win situation. so they reduced my teaching
load. which is, i think, the ideal situation. brian: how big is your university? michio: one of the biggest on the planet earth. the city university of new york has a quarter of a million students. it is huge. the state university of new york services the entire state. the city university of new york services 8 million people altogether. that is a population of new york. brooklyn alone would be the third city in the united states if he were to cut up new york city. so the university of new york is gigantic. it is absolutely humongous. brian: you have a lot about this in your book, you talk a lot about going to mars, here is a motion picture. star trek, 1979. i want to show it and have you put the movies in context with learning science. >> accelerating to warp one.
♪ >> 4.7. .8. brian: have you seen all these movies? michio: i love them. i am a science fiction junkie. i watch all of the star trek films. when i was a kid i loved that kind of stuff. ofay, however, i do a lot cringing because i realize they got that law of physics wrong or they got that wrong. a lot of times i have to suspend what i know about physics and just let my imagination roam. and that is the way to enjoy these films. i love these films. brian: 1951. the day the earth stood still. let's watch this one. >> it is no concern of ours how
you run your own planet. but if you threaten to extend your violence, this earth of yours will be reduced to a burned up cinder. your choice is simple. join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. brian: did you see this movie? michio: yes. that movie was very important because up until then the paradigm was war of the worlds. we are the underdog, we are the good guys. that flipped it totally the other way. all of a sudden, we became the enemy. we were the enemy of ourselves. we are our worst enemy. so that movie was incredibly important because it shifted the entire focus away from martians invading the earth to looking inward, to looking at our own problems. that if we explore outer space if we mess up the earth, we , don't want to mess up mars. we have to get our own acts
together. i thought that picture was pivotal because it shifted the center of gravity of science fiction. brian: this is book number nine for you? michio: 14, i think. brian: they listed eight of them here. this one is called "the future of humanity." what was your goal in this book versus the others? michio: i talk about the future like 100, 200, 300 years in the future. but what is the pot of gold out there? what is the ultimate destiny of all these things? so i said to myself as carl , sagan once told me, we should become a two planet species. we should become or we should join other civilizations in some kind of galactic civilization, if it exists. and if so as people pointed out to me, the dinosaurs did not have a space program. and the destiny of the dinosaurs was to go extinct. that was their destiny. our destiny is i have written.
forms theirll life , destiny is extinction. the norm for mother nature is extinction. if you dig right under our feet right now, you will see the bones of the 99.9% that no longer walk the surface of the earth. we are different. we have self-awareness. we can see the future, we plot, we scheme, we plan. and so perhaps we are going to evade this conundrum and maybe survive. policy.eed an insurance that is why this book is different from the other books. the other books talk about the steps. but what is the goal? what is a pot of gold? one pot of gold would be to have an insurance policy. a plan b in case a super volcano, an asteroid wiped out humanity or severely dents our history. brian: this is 20 years from now, you will be 91, you will
still be teaching and speaking. and you look back at what we have done in these 20 years, what will it be? who will have been responsible for it? michio: in some sense my goal in life is, we physicists like to rank civilizations by energy. type one is planetary, they control the weather. type two is stellar, they control stars and play with stars. like star trek. star trek would be a type of civilization. then there is type three, galactic, they play with black holes. like star wars. now what are we? , we are type zero. we get energy from dead plants. in a hundrede that years we will be type one. but it is not guaranteed because we still have all the savagery of our rise from the swamp just a few hundred years ago. we have the same sectarianism, fundamentalism nationalism, all
, the backwardness of our rise from the swamp. but i see that by 2100 we will become a planetary civilization. so i want to help speed up the process to make sure that we don't let the savagery of our rise from the swamp overwhelm our destiny, which is to become type one. for example what language will , this type one civilization speak? already on the internet, english and mandarin are the two dominant languages. and the internet itself is the first type one technology that fell into our lap as we are still type zero. so we see the beginning of a type one planetary civilization. but we may not make it. elon musk said why don't the aliens visit us? there should be a lot of type one civilizations out there. they don't visit us because they perhaps did not make the transition to type one. brian: do you have any idea why, over the years and it has been
that case since i have been aware of it, that we refer to aliens as little green men that are going to land here someday? why are they little green men? michio: i think it is part of our subconscious. because hollywood gives us these images as children and as grown-ups we access these ancient memories of bug eyed monsters. by the way i have some advice , for people that claim to have met these aliens. many people email me and say they have been abducted from space theyrom outer , know they are out there. my attitude is the next time you are abducted by an alien, steal something. i don't care if it is an alien paperweight, a chip, a pen, steal something because there is no law against stealing from an extraterrestrial. there is no law in the books that says you can't steal from an extra terrestrial. guess, haveis your they landed on her planet?
michio: i do not think so. if you ask for hard evidence, there is no hard evidence either way. there is a possibility that in the past we would have been visited, it can't be ruled out. brian: last video, you were alive, you were young, this is 1957. majorr 4, somebody named john glenn "name that tune." >> what do you think of the russian satellite which is circling the earth? >> to say the least they are out of this world. [laughter] this is really quite an advancement for the russians and for international science. i think we all agree on that. it is the first time anybody has ever been able to get anything out that far in space and keep it there for any length of time. this is probably the first step toward space travel or moon travel. something we will probably run lifetime at least. >> would you like to take a trip to the moon? >> i like it fine down here.
[laughter] brian: major john glenn was a test pilot. he had not gone to space. in your opinion, how have we done since 1957? michio: i think nasa became the agency to nowhere. it just spun wheels, went around planet earth. the space station was supposed to be the gateway for mars and the planets. that became a big turkey in outer space. i think we have been basically spinning wheels for 50 years. but last month, just last month there was this excitement when the falcon heavy rocket blasted off because that was a moon rocket. the first moon rocket in 50 years to blast off from cape canaveral. and guess who paid for it, our taxpayers? no. a private individual, elon musk. he paid for a moon rocket and gave it to the american people for free. this is unheard of. five years ago, if you were to say that a private individual would create his own personal moon rocket and give it to the
people of the world, people would think you were nuts. but it actually happened. so we are in a new ballgame now. a new ballgame where prices have dramatically. "the martian"e cost 100 million. to go to mars only cost $70 million. hollywood movies about mars cost more than going to mars. that is how cheap space travel has become. india, china -- china is going to plant of their flag on the moon. it is a national goal for the chinese people. things have changed. prices have dropped. private entrepreneurs are funding a lot of this stuff. and china, india, everyone is jumping into the game. we are going to have a traffic jam around the moon. brian: what would you tell an eight-year-old today watching you right now? and i am sure they have seen you in the audience is when you speak.
what should they do to prepare to become a theoretical physicist or scientist? michio: keep that flame alive. that is, keep that spark and inspiration, whatever it was that set you off in the direction. for me, it was trying to follow the works of einstein. to complete einstein's dream. whatever it is, follow that star. because that is going to keep you going. because there has to be a northstar that inspires you because there is a lot of math you have to know, you have to pay your dues. but ultimately it is that spark , of creativity and innovation that keeps you going in spite of all the obstacles. brian: the title of the book is "the future of humanity." thank you very much for joining us. michio: my pleasure. announcer: all "q&a" programs are available on our website or as a podcast on c-span.org. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
announcer: tonight on c-span, at 9:30 p.m., a discussion about the future of representative democracy and how the relationship between the branches influences the effectiveness of government. speakers include former advisor karl rove. >> one thing i learned at the white house is personal relationships between the president and congress, even with members, even most importantly with members of the opposition, have to be aimed at cordiality. the president cannot get drawn into this stuff, he has to rise above it and be the adult in the room and take whatever is hurled his way -- so candidate in massachusetts had that bush lied in iraq. he looked at the same intelligence, he came to the same conclusion as bush, he gave
a speech, said we need to remove saddam hussein by diplomacy, but he is the guy that kicked it off. that did not keep bush from holding his tongue, trying to set the record straight by not getting personal, and working closely with kennedy for three years on immigration reform. but the president has to be that person. it is not an easy job. i remember one time i got a call from, harry he said, i gave a speech and i did not read it beforehand, they wrote it. i called bush a liar and a loser. and i did not mean to call him a loser. [laughter] wil you tell him i am sorry? i said, he does not have anything on the schedule, let's plug you through, click. but that is the job of the president. whether they like it or not, the personal relationships matter. announcer: also at the event,
former house majority leader eric cantor and jim hodges of south carolina and george allen of virginia. watch the entire conversation on the future of representative democracy, tonight at 9:30 p.m. eastern, here on c-span. announcer: in the wake of the recent shootings in el paso and dayton, the house judiciary committee will return early from summer recess to mark up three gun violence prevention bills, including banning high-capacity magazines, restricting firearms from those deemed to be a risk to themselves, and preventing individuals convicted of hate crimes from purchasing a gun. live coverage begins on wednesday, september 4 at 10:00 eastern on c-span into c-span.org. listen to our live coverage using the free c-span radio app.