How much of a threat are Near-Earth Objects (NEOs)?
What is our greatest threat to our civilization?
Could it be threats from outer space?
Could it be the misuse of technology out of ignorance or greed?
Could the greatest threat to this civilization be occurring within the next 50 years?
Dr. Kaku addresses these questions in an article shown below.
An Interview with MICHIO KAKU (excerpts)
by Stephen Marshall - Guerrilla News Network
The Prophets Conference New York City - Techniques of Discovery - May 2001
Let’s talk now about zero-point energy. Could you explain what that means? Secondly, is the world not dominated by a certain paradigm of energy cultivation that has certain economic interests who protect it and is there not, at every moment of a paradigm shift, a group who are threatened by that shift? Is there a danger to those people and have they, historically tried to prevent it - like when the Copernican model came in or went out?
Paradigm shifts are wonderful. They are fantastic. We study them in our history books. But they are also very dangerous because some of the proponents of the paradigm shift get executed. There is an elite that protects the old paradigm and they are threatened by the emergence of a new paradigm. For example, take a look at Copernicus. Why did Copernicus write his greatest masterpiece as an old dying man on his deathbed? Because he was no fool. Take a look at Giordano Bruno. Giordano Bruno, the great Italian philosopher, said that the Sun is a star. Now why should the Catholic Church be threatened by a statement that the Sun is a star? Because if the Sun is a star, then stars are suns. And if stars are suns, they may have planets. And if they have planets, then they may have life. And if life exists on these other planets – millions of them – then do they have the Virgin Mary? Do they have Jesus Christ? Do they have the sacraments? Do they have the saints? Do they have the Catholic Church? Do they have salvation? Do they have indulgences? I mean it goes on forever!
So the Catholic Church, being threatened by Bruno, simply burned him alive in the streets of Rome. Rather than have to deal with a million Jesus Christs and Virgin Marys in outer space. Well, paradigm shifts are nasty. However, Einstein introduced several. And now we have to realize that yes, the old paradigm shifts can threaten some people.
Take a look at energy, for example. Nicola Tesla, the great mathematical and physical genius, had some bizarre ideas. One of them for example, was the alternating current. Edison did not like alternating current at all, and was very threatened by the new paradigm of Nicola Tesla. He took advertisements showing that alternating current was dangerous – we use them in the electric chair, they kill people. Well nobody uses DC current anymore in their home. We all use AC. But of course Thomas Edison was very threatened by Nicola Tesla.
Well, Nicola Tesla was a very interesting man. He came up with an idea called zero-point energy. Even the vacuum of nothingness has some kind of energy. He thought that perhaps we could extract that energy for purposes that would threaten the oil companies. Well, we physicists today have found zero-point energy. It’s very small - it’s called the Casimir Effect. It has been measured in the laboratory and believe it or not, we even think the Casimir Effect may be useful for time machines if you have enough energy concentrated at that point. However, it is very difficult. We would have to be at least Type-2 – what we call Type-2 or Type-3 civilizations with fantastic power… galactic power, before we can manipulate this kind of Casimir energy.
But the irony is, we think that we have found dark energy. Dark energy, the energy of nothing, is now thought to be what is driving the galaxies apart. It turns out that Einstein’s equation has a loophole. That even nothingness may have energy associated with it - the energy of nothing - and that energy, we think, is driving the galaxies apart. The latest cosmological data supports what is called the inflationary model and the inflationary model has within it the ability to explain something called dark matter – the energy of nothing - which pushes the galaxies apart, meaning that the universe is probably accelerating – meaning that the universe is not contracting, not expanding in a very simple way, but actually accelerating because of anti-gravity – the anti-gravity of the energy of nothing. So Tesla, in some sense, was prophetic. He pointed to the energy of nothing. People laughed at him.
We still don’t know whether you can extract meaningful energy from it but the irony is he has the last laugh – that the energy of nothing is perhaps driving the expansion of the universe itself. Now let me talk about another paradigm shift. People are talking about energy. We need lots of it. We need nuclear energy. We need more carbon-based energy. We need more fossil fuel plants. And that old paradigm is led, of course, by the oil companies, and they are threatened by perhaps a new paradigm – the paradigm of conservation. Solar energy, wind power, renewable forms of energy that are not dependent on nuclear energy, not dependent on carbon. Well the numbers are very clear. Solar power is within striking distance of coal and oil, and coal and oil create, as we know, the greenhouse effect.
Now I believe that our Earth is making a transition to what’s called a Type-1 civilization. A planetary civilization that harnesses truly planetary power that can control the weather perhaps. Eventually we can become Type-2 – a civilization that controls the power of a star, and uses solar flares for its energy source. Eventually we may become Type-3 – galactic, perhaps harnessing the power of a black hole at the center of the galaxy itself. But the most dangerous transition – the most dangerous paradigm shift – the most dangerous paradigm shift of all is between Type-0 and Type-1.
Before you go on, could you just define a Type-0 civilization because we haven't done that yet.
A Type-0 civilization is a civilization that gets its energy from dead plants, oil and coal. They don’t control the weather. They don’t control earthquakes and volcanoes like a Type-1 civilization. The don’t play with solar flares and ignite dying stars, like a Type-2 civilization. They don’t cruise the lanes of the galaxy like a Type-3 civilization.
We are Type-0.
We are not even on the scale yet. However the transition between Type-0 and Type-1 will take perhaps 100 years and you see evidence of this already. The Internet is a Type-1 telephone system. English will be the language of a Type-1 civilization. The European Union is the beginning of a Type-1 economy. Hollywood, rap music, blue jeans – that’s going to be the culture, like it or not, of a Type-1 civilization.
The oil companies are protecting the old paradigm. The old paradigm of carbon dioxide. The old paradigm which is heating up the planet Earth. The poles are beginning to melt. Alaska is beginning to thaw out. Every single glacier on the planet Earth is receding. Within 30-50 years, there may be no snows of Kilimanjaro. There may be no Alps in which to ski. Greenland will gradually disappear in the next fifty years. We are talking about a catastrophic shift in the weather of the planet. The growing areas – the bread baskets of the world – like the wheat belt and the corn belt could turn into a dustbowl like they were in the 1930s. We are talking about monster hurricanes energized by warming sea water that will devastate coastal cities. We are talking about mosquitoes and malaria creeping northward as the temperatures begin to rise. We are talking about growing areas turning into deserts. We are talking about the weather going north. Canada may become relatively warm and have tremendous heat belts. The United States may eventually have the climate of Mexico and Mexico may have the climate of the Sahara Desert.
Think about this.
That’s the paradigm shift which will take place unless we can break the grip, the death grip, of the oil companies and the petrochemical industry who inject tremendous greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. So why is it when we look in outer space, we don’t see Type-1, Type-2, Type-3 civilizations? There should be 10,000 of them according to astronomer Frank Drake, in our own galaxy. Perhaps and just perhaps, there were 10,000 Type-0 civilizations in our galaxy, but they all self-destructed because a transition from Type-0 to Type-1 is the most dangerous of all transitions. It is the greatest paradigm shift of all because that means we have the power to self-destruct.
The generation now alive – the generation watching this video – that generation is the most important generation that has ever been born – that has ever walked the surface of the Earth because that generation - the generation of today - will determine whether we make the transition from Type-0 to Type-1… to a planetary civilization… to an age of Aquarius. Or whether we pollute our atmosphere with carbon dioxide… whether we irradiate ourselves with the power of uranium. When we go into outer space one day, and we see other civilizations in space. Perhaps we will see dead civilizations. Perhaps we will see atmospheres irradiated with the power of uranium. Perhaps atmospheres too hot to sustain life. Perhaps we’ll see planets that tried to make the transition from Type-1 to Type–2 but never made it. Here we have a warning and that warning is: unless we can control the sectarianism, the nationalism, the fundamentalism, the hatreds and anger that came with our rise from the swamp… unless we can control these passions, we may never make it to the age of Aquarius.
OK. You talked about humans evolving into masters of the universe. By your own definition, if this generation were to realize its potential and aid this paradigm shift in becoming a Type-1 civilization - we would be able to become masters of the universe. Could you define that and tell us about what we should aim for to achieve it?
Some people say: ‘Of what use is the unified field theory? Can I get better sliced bread? Can I get better cable television from the unified field theory?’ Well, let me tell you this. Gravity was the first of the great forces to be worked out by Newton. Newton created a calculus – a mechanics by which to understand the force of gravity. That mechanics helped to unleash the power of steam engines and steam engines, in turn, ushered in the industrial revolution which toppled the kings and queens in feudal dynasties of old – ushering in the age of machines.
Not bad for a theory of gravity.
Then, about 150 years ago, we had the work of Fereday, the work of Maxwell, trying to harness the power of electricity and magnetism. And today we know that our cities are lit up with the power of electromagnetic force. The power that gives us laser beams and the Internet and computers. The power to revolutionize medicine with MRI scans and PET scans and CAT scans. Then we have the two nuclear forces. These nuclear forces not only energize the Sun but they also energize the possibility of nuclear warfare. Hydrogen bombs and atomic bombs – their power derives from these four fundamental forces. And now we are talking about unifying all four fundamental forces into a unified field theory – a theory perhaps based on an equation just one inch long. And what I ask myself is, ‘will we have the wisdom… the wisdom to handle this kind of power… the power to be masters of space and time?’
Now this, of course, is still distant in the future. You would probably have to be at least Type-2 before we could begin to manipulate space and time. You see at the Planck energy – a fantastic energy – ten to the nineteen billion electron volts - one with 19 zeroes after it – that’s the energy of the unified field theory. That’s the energy at which space becomes unstable. If I had a piece of ice for example and heated it up, eventually it would melt, and then the water would boil, then the steam would rise, then the atoms of water itself would disassociate into hydrogen and oxygen, then they would be ripped apart into nuclei and electrons. And if I pump in enough energy, a baby universe may begin to emerge out of your oven. We are talking about cosmic power – the power to be masters of space and time. I hope that one day we have the wisdom – the power of a God and the wisdom of Solomon to go with it – to be able to handle the kind of power that is unleashable once we have the unified field theory.
Edited by bobdrake12, 18 January 2003 - 04:03 PM.