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tv   [untitled]    August 12, 2011 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT

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hello i'm starving in washington d.c. and here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture shortly after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the fukushima plant in japan back in march i set out with nuclear physicist michio kaku as part of our conversations with great minds and talk about the consequences of what was unfolding in japan and the dangers of nuclear energy as we know today five months removed from the quake and tsunami japan is still dealing with
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a nuclear nightmare that's why tonight we'll revisit my conversation with me show and reexamine the ongoing nuclear scenario on the other side of the planet. for tonight's conversations the great minds i'm joined by a brilliant physicist new york times bestselling author a man who can explain the most complex scientific problems and ways the rest of us can understand not only is he a professor of theoretical physics at the city university of new york he's also the host of the t.v. show so i thought i science physics of the impossible on the science channel as well as the host of two radio programs broadcast on over one hundred forty stations its current work is focused on finishing einstein's project of creating a unified theory to explain how everything works the universe. and he is this the
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co-founder of something called string field theory which will get into later his latest book is called physics of the future a science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year twenty one hundred pleased to welcome from los angeles a man on the cutting edge of science dr michio kaku dr kaku welcome. glad to be on the show thank you very much i'm very very glad to have you with us i understand that when you were eight years old you had an a with an a that's hard to do on this . that's right some people remember the instant that princess diana died i remember the instant when albert einstein guy it was in all the newspapers everyone was talking about the fact that he could not finish his greatest work it was to be the theory of everything an equation one inch long which would allow was to cold read the mind of god one theory which would describe everything from the big bang formation of the stars the galaxy people maybe even love and i said to
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myself that's for me that's what i want to finish a unified field theory and then with this string theory my recollection it's been some years of american action is that the the original objection or problem with it was that it required a time to mention a multiverse or universe ahead. if if you can translate that into english and tell us how you've solved that or how close you may be to that. fascinated by curious. string theory we think is it it is the leading and only candidate for a theory of everything it says that everything we see around us is nothing but little tiny vibrating rubber bands and when they vibrate in one mode it's an electron when you trying it and if i put it in another mode it turns into a neutrino or a cork or any of the thousands of subatomic particles we see so physics is nothing
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but the harmonies you can write on these tiny vibrating rubber bands chemistry is nothing but the melodies you can play on these interacting strings the universe is a symphony of strings and the mind of god that albert einstein wrote about would be cosmic news. sick cosmic music resonating through ten baby levon dimensional hyperspace so you can imagine how controversial it is people were saying this is star trek multi-verse of universe that's right and now we have the larger on collider outside geneva switzerland that hopefully will test this theory maybe there are other universes and other dimensions. may be here the. a friend of mine who started out in physics and ended up in metaphysics. suggested matter.
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sensually you know that i as an einstein equals mc squared but the amount of energy in matter is it is you know math and just the speed of light squared and times the mass and and if you could then define that energy and look at the most subtle particle of energy that at that level the universe would be solid or at least would be filled and that most subtle energy might be something that we could describe as raw of our consciousness you use the word love just a moment ago is that anything close to what you were talking about. well in the sense that we think the tiniest bit of space time the tiniest bit of matter is this cry by vibrating strings strings make music and the music of these strings is the epitome of the realization that all the particles we see in nature are nothing but different notes out of our braiding straight now that picture coming out of string
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theory you mention the multiverse that picture is that we have a bubble we live on the skin of this bubble that einstein and the bubble is expanding that's the big bang theory of the new wrinkle in all this is that we think there are other bubbles out. they're all there bubbles and all these bubbles collide before and larger bubbles pres called the big splash theory or these bubbles can pinch off so we have a bubble bath of universes and that we think is where the big bang came from the big bang came from we think bubbles colliding with other bubbles bubbles visioning and half just like what you see in a bubble about that is the multi-verse of universes. we started out by your opening at the age of eight i understand also as a as a child you wanted to build a particle accelerator in your parents' garage and and that your parents had been
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interned in the concentration camps that are going to put together their world war two how how has all of that shaped your worldview. yeah it's true my parents were in a relocation can from one nine hundred forty two to nine hundred forty six but i was in the sputnik age the age when people said yes it's your duty to become a scientist and i was swept up by all that so when i was in high school i built an atom smasher a two point three million electron gold-beater trying to accelerate or that i built in my mom's garage so one day i asked my mom mom can i have permission to build an atom smasher in the garage and she said sure why not and over here that they got the garbage well it weighed four hundred pounds they contained twenty two miles of copper wire it consumed six kilowatts of power every time i turned it off and i blew out every single circuit breaker in the house and my poor mom every time the
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lights went out she would say where is the fuse box and then she would say why couldn't i have a son who plays basketball maybe baseball if for god's sake why katie find a nice japanese girlfriend well hey i can. because the accelerator got me into harvard in fact when i was in high school i had a smash earn the attention of a comic i've been a comic business has called edward teller he's the father of the hydrogen bomb he took me under his wing and he arranged for me to get a scholarship to harvard and that set me off chasing after einstein's theory of everything. you you talk about how politics is important in your new book physics of the future there's. actually there's there's a whole bunch of things in here i'd love to talk to you but. but just in general and i know you've. heard you tell the story before about explaining physics to
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politicians in the context of religion. can you can you share that story with us and why in your mind politics has a theoretical physicist politics isn't working. well in one thousand nine hundred three we were going to build the largest particle accelerator the largest adna smasher of all time much bigger than the large hadron collider in geneva switzerland which is actually a piece you are the big what was called the super collider used to be built outside dallas texas costing a leavened billion dollars but then in the last day of hearings because of cost overruns one congressman said now wait a minute will we find god with your machine if so then i'll vote for it off the porpoises didn't know what to say how are we going to find god with the super collider so he said we're going to find the higgs pose on well you could hear the
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jaws hit the floor of the united states congress eleven billion dollars for another god darn subatomic particle they took the vote and the machine was canceled so ever since then we physicists have been asking the question how should we have answered that question will we find god with your machine i would have answered it differently i would have said god by whatever signs or symbols you ascribe to the deity this machine the super collider will take us as close as humanly possible to his greatest creation genesis this is the genesis machine it. celebrate the greatest event in the history of the universe its birth unfortunately we said ok expose on and our machine was cancelled and now a smaller version is going to geneva switzerland well and could you explain what's going to go what's going on in switzerland and the large hadron collider why that
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might be important for the rest of us and what is most. well known we have all these subatomic particles that we get by smashing atoms we smash apart protons we get quarks they get powers of subatomic particles and so we have a jigsaw puzzle there's one piece missing in this puzzle and that's the higgs goes on that we hope to find with the large hadron collider but the string theory says that this jigsaw puzzle of particles is nothing good for the lowest octave there's a higher octave the next octave of the string is called dark matter and dark matter we think makes up most of the universe dark matter we think is ten times more plentiful than ordinary matter so every high school chemistry textbook is wrong every textbook says the universe is made out of adam's period end of story that's what the universe is made out of atoms we know realize that's wrong only four percent of the universe is made of atoms plenty three percent is made out of an
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invisible substance called dark matter which holds the galaxy together and invisible form of matter and beyond that seventy three percent of the universe is dark energy the energy of the big bang the energy that's driving the universe and making it expand so we're now beginning to realize that we are children we are children in terms of trying to understand the fundamental nature of reality but string theory gives us a comprehensive theory that would explain dark matter as a higher vibration and dark energy as the energy of nothing can i add. to be james sure in the modern context four hundred years later when did it all begin. we think that thirteen point seven billion years ago there was this explosion of the universe vibrations from that explosion are still with us today we have
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photographed that radiation still circulating around the universe and by golly it looks like an explosion and explosion in the microwave region and in fact if you want to hear that explosion a night get a radio tune between two frequencies and you heard that static right in a large portion of that static comes from the big bang so believe it or not the snow the static they do see in a t.v. set that white noise you hear on a radio a good fraction of that comes from genesis itself so we know that the big bang took place thirteen point seven billion years ago but then the question is what happened before the big bang well islands' theory breaks down at that point einstein's theory is useless we have to go to work theory beyond einstein and that we think is string theory in a string theory we have this picture of of bubbles bubbles popping into the
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existence bubbles colliding with other bubbles a multi-verse of universes and so this means that our universe may not be alone and the large measure on collider will be powerful enough to perhaps probe the fifth dimension of this so we're hoping that the larger and collider one thess up to speed starting next year will be a particle enough to probe at the fifth dimension and this will be the reconciliation of the quantum quantum theory which had a very small and relatively very large which are mathematically in some ways there were irreconcilable. that's right in my book hyperspace parallel worlds and also my latest book physics of the future i write that we have two great paradine sin physics mother nature has a left hand and a right hand the left hand is relativity the theory of the very big black holes big
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bangs quasars relativity then on the other hand we hear the theory of a very small atomic physics lasers subatomic particles out in the smashers these two theories hate each other they have different mathematics different physical principles they do not like each other at all and the need attempt to try to put them together makes them explode we get nonsense only string theory has the capability of putting these two theories together like two pieces in a jigsaw puzzle we now realize that music is the paradigm that can combined a very big with a very small the music of strings professor we have to take a short break afterwards i'd like to get into a conversation with you about what just happened in japan and nuclear power you wrote about it in your in your new book physics of the future a science will show you can win destiny in our daily lives by the year twenty one hundred coming up more in just a few minutes more with professor micheel kaku as we continue our conversations
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with great minds. for. a. few. folks. you know sometimes you see the story and the scene so. you think you understand it and then you glimpse something else and you hear or see some other part of it and realized everything you saw if you don't i'm sorry because we.
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are back with more conversations with the great minds of joined by the theoretical physicist at the city university of new york professor machine. co-founder of string field theory and author of numerous best selling books including his most recent physics of the future how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year twenty one hundred dr kaku you in your book i'm looking at page two nineteen here you have it which begins a rather lengthy discussion of nuclear fission and you know the different ways that you turn thirty years separated from two to thirty five years and what not we have just seen in japan the consequence. i guess for the third arguably for the third time in a big way of our experimentation with what some would suggest is something
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beyond our our ability to deal with what's what is your take on what has happened at daiichi. we have to realize that when engineers plan for the future they very rarely plan for the once in a century event it's not going to happen in their lifetime it's not going to happen in their children's lifetime but hey sometimes it happens even if you don't plan for it look at katrina that hurricane the devastated new orleans was not supposed to happen for one hundred years and if you go back. thousand years we had almost the advent of cold tsunami and earthquake that ravaged northern japan but that was a thousand years ago that earthquake fault erupts every thousand years so it's that once in a century event which century will that fault line erupt well around that reactor
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they had a fifteen foot wall that could take most taken care of most tsunamis but the wave that came in was forty five feet tall completely overwhelmed all the safety systems and the generators were put in the basement i can't think of anything more stupid the to put the generators of a nuclear power plant in the basement where they can get flooded immediately and that's what happened so think of driving a car and driving a car all the stud and spins out of control and your brakes don't work that's what happened in the opening minutes of that accident and then your radiator heats up and your radiator explodes that's the hydrogen gas explosion took place four times at the daiichi site then you find out that your gas tank is about to explode that's the meltdown so what do you do you drive your car into a river and that's what stopped the accident in the nick of time they put seawater
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seawater from the pacific ocean and dumped it right into the reactor preventing three simultaneous meltdowns in the nick of time they did it right before it was about to explode into three gigantic meltdowns and that's where we are today a crippled nuclear power plant it's stable all in the sense that a time bomb is also stable a small earthquake a pipe break could set it off because it's just hanging there by your fingernails so imagine being on a cliff and hanging like your fingernails and one by one your fingernails start to crack that's a situation. at the reactor right now it's stable but only if they can keep enough seawater in fresh water over the course a small earthquake could upset this entire scenario one of my best friends lives in tokyo his one of his kids not susan not suppose here in the united states but the
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rest of his other daughter is in tokyo with him and his wife and we've been corresponding ever since this happened in japan they refer to as to real love in. the way we were for nine eleven and my friend tells me the media has been fairly reassuring and you know don't be so concerned and and tokyo is a long way away from. fukushima fukushima depending on how you would say. are the citizens of tokyo safe and for that matter what will the consequence of this enormous amount of radiation that not only is going into the atmosphere but in particular into the ocean which is it seems to be the basis of much of our food chain most of what what is this consequence going to be. will tokyo it's one hundred fifty miles from the site the danger zone is out to perhaps fifty miles so the people of tokyo at are at present relatively safe however take
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a look at the consequence of that accident the workers the workers at the site are like somewhere i worriers they know that many of them are not going to make it out alive because the radiation fields are lethal but the managers the utility managers are incompetent i get this mental image of homer simpson operating a nuclear power plant totally overwhelmed by what is happening there we have contamination in the food the vegetable in the milk in the area around the reactor in the water and it's a million times higher than the legal limit inside the water this is a never to. the spread especially because they're dumping tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water right into the pacific ocean and remember it's not stable yet they hope to stabilize it perhaps later this year but if they have to evacuate because of a secondary earthquake another pipe rate more radiation release if they have to
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evacuate from that site then the accident is in freefall the only thing preventing a meltdown right now are the firemen the firemen shooting hose water into the reactors this is not in any nuclear physics textbook this it means that they're literally making it up as they go along you know textbook says that in case of an accident because the local fire department and should hose water into a reactor which is in a partial meltdown state they're literally making it up as they go along sadly enough we are witnessing a science experiment and we are the guinea pigs what would you say to president obama who has traditionally supported nuclear power if if you were to ask your opinion of the future of energy and the future of nuclear energy in the united states in particular. what's your pan has made the fascia and barak and founds was
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this mythical figure who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited power japan has no oil and has no coal it's very little hydro power is thrown the dice with foulest that is unlimited energy the only prices your soul and the united states now is undergoing a national debate about whether or not we should also undergo austan bargain unlimited power the only prices your soul there's a new generation of reactors coming down the line they call pebble bed gas coal reactors they are safer then the design you. used in japan that design is forty years old by the way the new design is safer in fact during the mill down they claim that you can even go out to dinner go out to dinner take in a show and then take care of the meltdown but the bottom line is they melt and
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that's something that we have to take into consideration when i was in high school my advisor was edward teller father of the hydrogen bomb he was pro-nuclear but he was fond of saying that nuclear energy is so dangerous it does not belong on the surface of the earth it belongs underground and if they have built that reactor underground then all the it would have to do is put a manhole cover on it and walk away from it that's the files kinvara again my advisor edward teller clearly knew the dangers of nuclear power which could be handled if you take precautions like putting them underground unfortunately no one heeded his advice and so we have tragedies like what's emerging into the day and obama has to confront this problem now in the united states what is the future of energy in in in the united states and around the world i mean we've go and have this giant nuclear reactor ninety three million miles away from us seems like we
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should be making some use of that. well yes the sun is a nuclear power plant it is ninety three or so million miles away some people think it's the only safe nuclear power plant precisely because it is ninety three million miles away but look at it this way fossil fuel prices are erratic but i'm general are going up to put solar hydrogen renewables efficiency that curve is going down right now solar is about twice as expensive as fossil fuels but because cost of solar hydrogen are going down and the cost of fossil fuels are going up in about ten years they will interest. sakte at that point market forces come into play and market forces will begin to mass produce solar tax credits will bring down the cost and make it competitive so in a ten years' time frame even without nuclear energy we will be entering a solar hydrogen iran and then beyond back in my book physics of the future i
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mentioned that fusion power begins to open up in a twenty year time frame the french are building i can pick fusion reactor which only operates on sea water we're talking about a reactor that produces no nuclear waste like we have into a pen helium gas is the only waste product and it is commercially valuable and russia the united states japan korea and the european union are backing the french reactor called the i heat our if it is successful then in twenty years' time we could be entering the solar fusion here are independent of oil coal or even uranium . we have about two minutes left professor and your book physics of the future cover so much territory and artificial intelligence medicine nanotechnology energy space travel what in your mind is the most important message you'd like to leave
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with our viewers about your new book physics of injury. let me just make a few predictions there are hundreds of predictions i make in the book based on interviews with three hundred of the world's top scientists first of all the internet will be so cheap it will be inside your contact lens you will blink and you will go online your contact lens will recognize people's faces identify who they are print out the biography in your contact lens and if they speak chinese to you it will translate to chinese into english russian or whatever as they speak this is going to revolutionize the. we interact with reality once our contact lenses are fully intelligent and have the internet on them also when we get in a car cars will drive themselves google is investing millions of dollars to create a g.p.s. guided car a robotic car that drives itself without you ever touching the steering wheel
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and later perhaps by mid century when you interact with computers you'll do it mentally through the mind the mind is a know what radio transmitter computers can out this site for the outlines of our thoughts and so by putting on a little helmet or an earpiece we'll be able to mentally control computers in our environment and move things around just like in the science fiction novels in other words we will have the power of a greek god the ability to think and have our wishes come true extraordinary professor michaud kaku thank you so much for being with us tonight. thank you. drives the world the fear mongering used by politicians who needs decisions to break through it through me who can you trust.


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