Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku

Chapter Nine

Our final chapter illustrates a fictitious day in the life of someone in 2100.  Much of this resembles our impressions of television’s memorable cartoon show, “The Jetsons.” 

Discuss the technology/physics behind the scenes in each section:

- JANUARY, 2100, 6:15 A.M.







Kaku closes with this scenario:

“And then you take out an old, worn book from your back pocket, and read to her the words of someone who died more than 100 years ago. It reminds you of the challenges facing humanity before it attains a planetary civilization. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote:

The Roots of Violence:
Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.”

- How will the Bible be read and applied in the year 2100?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku

Chapter Eight

1.  Kaku introduces our chapter with this thesis: “All the technological revolutions described here are leading to a single point: the creation of a planetary civilization. This transition is perhaps the greatest in human history. In fact, the people living today are the most important ever to walk the surface of the planet, since they will determine whether we attain this goal or descend into chaos.”

- What would this planetary civilization consist of, structurally? 
- What pieces (political, financial, etc.) would need to be in place to achieve this broad, encompassing status?

2.  Kaku notes that we are about 100 years away from achieving Type I status as a civilization. 

- Review and discuss the signs of this emerging transition:
•   The Internet is the beginning of a Type I planetary telephone system.
•   A handful of languages, led by English, followed by Chinese, are rapidly emerging as the future Type I language.
•   We are witnessing the birth of a planetary economy.
•   We are seeing the rise of a planetary middle class.
•   The economy, not weapons, is the new criterion for a superpower.
•   A planetary culture is emerging, based on youth culture (rock and roll and youth fashion), movies (Hollywood blockbusters), high fashion (luxury goods), food (mass-market fast-food chains).
•   The news is becoming planetary.
•   Sports, which in the past were essential in forging a tribal and then a national identity, are now forging a planetary identity.
•   Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet.
•   Likewise, the falling price of intercontinental travel is accelerating contact between diverse peoples, making wars more difficult to wage and spreading the ideals of democracy.
•   The nature of war itself is changing to reflect this new reality.
•   Nations will weaken but will still exist in 2100.
•   Diseases will be controlled on a planetary basis.

3.  “There are groups, however, that instinctively resist the trend toward a Type I planetary civilization, because they know that it is progressive, free, scientific, prosperous, and educated”…including Islamic terrorists and dictators, to name a few.

- Who else might be included on this list today?

4.  A Type II civilization will probably be at peace with itself. Since space travel is so difficult, it will have remained a Type I civilization for centuries, plenty of time to iron out the divisions within their society. By the time a Type I civilization reaches Type II status, they will have colonized not just their entire solar system but also the nearby stars. By the time a civilization reaches Type III status, it will have explored most of the galaxy. The most convenient way to visit the hundreds of billions of planets is to send self-replicating robot probes throughout the galaxy.

- Why are these transitions so difficult for us to fathom?

5.  Kaku describes the resurgent efforts of SETI.  “It is conceivable that we may, within this century, detect signals from an intelligent civilization in space.  We have to introduce two new types of civilizations. The first is an ‘entropy conserving’ civilization, one that uses every means at its disposal to control excess waste and heat.  The second civilization, an ‘entropy wasteful’ civilization, continues to expand its energy consumption without limit.”

- How might awareness of entropy affect our attitudes & actions?

6.  “The transition between our current Type 0 civilization and a future Type I civilization is perhaps the greatest transition in history. It will determine whether we will continue to thrive and flourish, or perish due to our own folly. This transition is extremely dangerous because we still have all the barbaric savagery that typified our painful rise from the swamp. Peel back the veneer of civilization, and we still see the forces of fundamentalism, sectarianism, racism, intolerance, etc., at work. Human nature has not changed much in the past 100,000 years, except now we have nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons to settle old scores. However, once we make the transition to a Type I civilization, we will have many centuries to settle our differences.”

- How might the Christian Church lead the way?

7.  “So the true power of science is that it enables us and empowers us—giving us more options. Science magnifies the innovative, creative, and enduring spirit of humanity, as well as our glaring deficiencies. The key, therefore, is to find the wisdom necessary to wield this sword of science. As the philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” In my opinion, wisdom is the ability to identify the crucial issues of our time, analyze them from many different points of view and perspectives, and then choose the one that carries out some noble goal and principle.”

- If all wisdom comes from God, as persons of faith confess, what role might Biblical wisdom play in guiding our future?