Best known in the world of theoretical physicists, Michio Kaku is the City College of New York’s Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics.
He is a futurist, a great communicator, and a popularizer of science. He is the author of several physics-related books such as Physics of the Impossible published in 2008, and Physics of the Future published in 2011. Michio Kaku has appeared in several television programs, radio programs, films, and makes his work available through his online blogs.
Education and Early Years
Michio Kaku was born on January 24, 1947 to Japanese parents of Tibetan ancestry. His grandfather immigrated to the United States to help with the 1906 cleanup operation for the San Francisco Earthquake.
Michio was born in San Jose, California. Around the time of the Vietnam War, he successfully completed the basic training given by the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia followed by advanced infantry training at Fort Lewis in Washington (state). The war had already ended before he could be sent overseas.
He showed a great interest in science from an early age. When he studied in Palo Alto’s Cubberley High School, he assembled his own particle accelerator at home in the garage. According to him, his aim was to generate gamma ray beams with high enough energy to produce antimatter. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attended the National Science Fair and impressed Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, enabling him to win the Hertz Engineering Scholarship.
Michio Kaku was first in his physics class and he graduated summa cum laude (with highest honor) from Harvard University in 1968. In Berkeley, at the University of California, he received his Ph.D. in 1972 after carrying out research at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. In that same year, he began lecturing at Princeton University.
Kaku then moved on to research quantum mechanics at The City College of The City University of New York (CUNY) and he holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the CUNY where he has taught for over 25 years.
Academic Career and Publications
Kaku has expertise in several fields such as hadronic physics, supersymmetry, supergravity, superstring theory, and quantum physics among others. His knowledge on these topics has been subject of more than 70 publications in different journals covering physics-related subjects such as Physics Review.
Michio Kaku is known as a popularizer of science, and he has authored several popular science textbooks. His first book was released in 1994 – Hyperspace, followed by Beyond Einstein which he wrote with Jennifer Thompson a year later. In 1998, he published Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century, then two books in 2004: Einstein’s Cosmos and Parallel Worlds. His most recent works include Physics of the Impossible (2008), Physics of the Future (2011), and The Future of the Mind (2015).
All of these publications have sparked a great interest in the minds of scholars and curious minds alike who are interested in the realm of theoretical physics and other related disciplines given the futurist vision that Michio Kaku believes in.
Michio Kaku’s publications reflect his involvement in the ongoing search for understanding and unifying the forces of nature into just one theory. He continues his works based on Einstein’s earlier findings, and Michio Kaku is known as one of the founders of string field theory. His book Hyperspace was a great best seller and was voted as one of the top science books by both The Washington Post and The New York Times in the same year.
The Popularizer of Science
This is a commonly heard phrase whenever Michio Kaku’s name is mentioned, and not without good reason. Apart from comprehensive publications of both books and journal articles, he has a known presence in many different forms of media.
He has made appearances on several notable television channels such as BBC, Discovery, ABC, CNN, and the Science Channel just to name a few. Apart from his publications in Physics Review, his works and articles are also available to the public through popular science publications such as Wired, New Scientist, and Discover.
Some of his more recent media exposure includes the History Channel’s The Universe; BBC’s Time; where he went through an extraordinary exploration of time; and BBC’s Vision of the Future, where he explored today’s science as well as that of the future.
On a weekly basis, Michio Kaku can be heard on radio programs which are broadcasted all over the USA. He hosts Science Fantastic and Explorations in Science. Apart from these weekly radio programs, his talks about physics and his studies can be seen in several websites dedicated to his work, and on YouTube channels.
He has also been part of documentaries such as Obsessed and Scientific which discusses the possibility of time travel, ABC’s UFOs: Seeing is Believing, and he was one of the scientists who were featured in Me and Isaac Newton. For BBC, he has hosted the three-hour documentary Visions of the Future. In 2009 when he hosted a weekly TV series at the Science Channel called Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible. One of his more interesting thoughts has been featured on Discovery Channel’s Alien Planet where he discussed the possible future of interstellar exploration.
His presence in different media and his skill in communicating complex theories in easier to understand language has made him an influential popularizer of science.
Kaku is a father to two daughters and is married to Shizue Kaku. His favorite songs include the Star Wars Theme as well as Star Trek’s Next Generation Theme, both in line with his interest in physics and interstellar matters of science.
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