So, if you know anything about me, I assume it’s that I’m a geek.
I mean, it’s fairly obvious, given that I have a website showcasing my love for everything in the nerd realm.
This is why I think you’ll understand why I’ve declared a brilliant day, once I explain it all to you.
Let’s get started.
Today, I got to hang out with Dr. Michio Kaku.
Yes. The (Dr.) Michio Kaku.
If you know who that is, skip ahead.
If you don’t know who that is, keep reading.
Dr. Michio Kaku, my fair lads, is one of those lovely ‘popularizers of science.’
This means his work is so interesting that even those not generally interested in science get excited. He makes the idea of science ‘popular,’ to the general public, much like the lovely Bill Nye (The Science Guy, as you may know him) or the ever amazing Neil deGrasse Tyson. They are demigods within their fields, and the eyes of fellow nerds. Science celebrities, basically.
Luckily, I’m into science, so this was even better.
He considers himself a futurist- meaning his work generally focuses on the systematic predictions or possibilities of the future, for human society and life on Earth as a whole. He’s written tons of books filled with his thoughts, such as these titles below [which are linked to places where you can buy them, btw. I really recommend them. They’re fascinating reads!]
These are the covers, and I love them. There are older versions of most of the books, but I love the illustrations for these covers. They just look so great. Perfect and sci-fi-y.
‘The Future of the Mind’ is his newest; it’s hit #1 on The New York Times’ book lists, and it’s at #1 on Amazon for scientific research books overall!
My personal favorite, although they’re all amazing, is the ‘Physics of the Impossible’ book, which talks about sci-fi elements from movies, and tvs shows, and such, and then actually talks about the physics of their concepts, and which are actually something that can be achieved in the future and which are total imagination. He talks about things like phasers, teleportation, time travel, all sorts of stuff. If you like sci-fi shows, and are looking for a read to start with, I’d definitely say this is the book for you.
Dr. Kaku is an amazing person, and I really think you should research more about him if you are interested in learning more! He has had an amazing life so far, and is FULL of awesome information. Keep an eye out for him.
The reason why today is brilliant?
I’ll tell you why.
I got to meet him. Personally.
Let’s start with the whole story, shall we?
I found out back in January that my university was hosting him as a speaker for our ‘Distinguished Speaker’ series, which brings people of national recognition to our school to talk to us about what they’re up to. I saw Dr. Kaku on the list this year, and actually didn’t believe it.
I called our University events and Protocol department to make sure there wasn’t someone else with the same name as him, or that they weren’t pulling a cruel prank.
The lady on the phone assured me that the event was very real.
I hung up in shock, after flustering out some words that vaguely resembled a human speech pattern.
Later, when my mind fully understood the gravity of the situation (GRAVITY. PHYSICS JOKE), I emailed the woman I had spoke with on the phone, begging and pleading to volunteer to help out.
Luckily, she seemed happy to have me interested, and told me someone would be in touch.
After TWO GRUELING MONTHS of hearing nothing back (even though I had sent about 5 follow-up emails), I finally got the chance I dreamed of: I was invited to an intimate luncheon hosting Dr. Kaku. There were 14 or so students, including myself, and then some faculty, making less than 20 in total. 20 and Dr. Michio Kaku.
Lunch was amazing- it gave us a chance to ask him burning questions from our minds in a smaller setting, allowing for detailed answers and a lot of conversation.
I even asked a question, even though I honestly felt so memorized, I didn’t even know where to start.
See, the other students, most of them were in particular departments- we had ‘chancellor’s scholars,’ leading to be the brightest in their fields, we had PhD students, there were other physicists and engineers and…. everything in that realm.
And then there was me. I am a business student.
I just happen to be a nerd.
So, I ended up introducing myself, after three ‘chancellor’s scholars,’ with “Hi! I am not a Chancellor’s Scholar. I’m Stephanie, and I’m an MBA student.”
Luckily, I got a laugh, because I really felt as though I didn’t belong. Dr. Kaku said “Oh, you just snuck in here, huh?” Good thing he has a sense of humor.
My question to him, though, during the luncheon, was pretty simple, mostly because I’m completely overwhelmed by any technical talk. I have no background in physics, except I once dated a physicist who liked to talk a lot. But that’s it.
I merely asked him, in other words, what excited him about the future. What ‘blows his mind,’ basically.
His answer, although not a direct quote (because I was too excited to have my phone out to record it) was basically the mathematics of it all. He gave an example stating how, if you’re an English major, each year the reviews get more complex. People dissect the same works every year, and try to make a more complex picture out of someone’s previous work. They jumble it all up, being verbose and exaggerated, trying to figure out what this person could have possibly meant when he said one particular line.
But, that the glory with physics is the further we get, the more simple the equations become.
Dr. Kaku said that if he were trying to explain everything we knew about the known universe, it would take one simple page of equations, most of which would only be an inch long. Imagine that: everything you see, know, hear, believe, understand, experience- everything that is, was, shall ever be. All of it. All of it, that we know of, can be simplified onto one single page of equations, and that was exciting to him. He said as time goes by, physics can simplify things, sort of how in mathematics you simplify things.
He talked about how he once struggled with Quantum Mechanics, saying that the book he tried reading was so complicated and rough to read, that he had a hard time with it. HE had a hard time with it. The guy who assembled a particle accelerator in his garage as a high school student [which led to him being noticed, and sent to Harvard by Edward Teller (the father of the hydrogen bomb, folks) as his protegee… seriously, Dr. Kaku’s life story is amazing. Check out more about him, if you haven’t yet]. But then, later in life, in high school I believe, he came across an equation that explained it all so perfectly, in less than an inch of writing, and that was just beautiful to him (that equation being the Dirac Equation). He said it was just the most beautiful thing he had seen at that point.
His next goal stems from that. His own equation within String Theory is only an inch long, but when you look at further concepts from there, he said it’s tough, and they haven’t been able to get the equation that small yet.
But, one day!
In any case, it was amazing speaking to him, of course, BUT THE DAY ISN’T OVER YET!
After this reception lunch, I was invited to play guard dog at his reception with our distinguished alumni- meaning I basically got to walk around and schmooze in his presence. Also amazing.
After that reception, I got a guaranteed front row seat at his speech to a completely FILLED auditorium. Seriously, it was packed. They had two overflow rooms, where people who couldn’t fit into our first ballroom, where they had to stream his talk. And there I was, with a better seat than the university president.
This day, my loves. This day was amazing.
What a wonderful man, and a wonderful day.