January 24 – Happy Birthday, Michio Kaku

Posted on January 24, 2016

How would you like to be a futurist?

That's someone who tries to systematically make and develop predictions of the future based on trends in the present – and on cutting-edge scientific developments and technological advances – and on knowledge and reason.

It is definitely NOT someone who makes predictions based on so-called ESP or magic or some sort of mystical force.

Michio Kaku is a lot of things. He's a writer, a speaker, and a television personality. He's a theoretical physicist and a college professor. He's a popularizer of science.

But the FIRST thing that Wikipedia lists about Kaku is that he is a futurist. How cool is that? 

Michio Kaku was born in California. Kaku's parents met in an internment center, where Americans who just happened to be of Japanese descent were locked up during World War II. Kaku's parents were not able to surmount the prejudice against Japanese Americans in order to have well-paid careers, so Kaku grew up fairly poor. However, Kaku's parents did manage to support his interests. He took him to university libraries when he was still just a kid, and they also allowed him to do experiments in the house.

And in the garage.

Yeah, about those experiments...

When Michio Kaku was still in high school, he built an “atom smasher” (a particle accelerator) in his parents' garage! He used 400 pounds of scrap metal and 22 miles of copper wire and ended up creating a 2.3 million volt accelerator that generated a magnetic field 20 thousand times greater than Earth's. It was powerful enough to create antimatter.


Luckily, his parents didn't say, “No, honey, you cannot build a 2.3 million volt ANYTHING in our garage,” like every other parent on the planet would surely say...And luckily, Kaku didn't kill himself with his atom smasher!

What DID result from this science fair project is that famed physicist Edward Teller took Kaku as a protege.

Despite the fact that Kaku had showed so much promise, so young, despite the fact that he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University and was first in his physics class, despite the fact that he received a Ph.D. and held a lectureship at Princeton University –

Despite all of that oh-so-special brainiac stuff, Michio Kaku was drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War! He completed basic training and advanced infantry training, but luckily the war ended before he was put in harm's way. (!)

Luckily not just for him and his loved ones, but for all of us. Kaku has made a lot of progress in physics – he was one of the founders of string field theory – but has also dedicated a lot of time and effort to explaining science to the general public. Take advantage of all of our luck by checking out his books and TV shows and videos. Here's a few to get you started:
Kaku has written at least
8 books!

Also on this date:

AND Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day

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