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Imagined abilities now real, Kaku tells Stambaugh crowd

Published: Fri, March 21, 2014 @ 12:01 a.m.


Physicist Michio Kaku poses with YSU student Dan Gallo of Hubbard before speaking to a group of students Thursday afternoon at Stambaugh Auditorium. Kaku also spoke Thursday evening to an audience at the historic North Side auditorium.


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Advancements in technology are enabling us to use our brains in ways once seen only in movies, says world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku.

For instance, he said,

researchers at Johns Hokpins University have been able to outfit a man with an artificial arm that can function like a real arm. And thanks to

researchers from Brown University, a paralyzed woman also has a robotic arm that

allows her to perform tasks such as drinking from a glass.

Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking and others who are paralyzed are able to type on a computer by the use of a computer chip in their brain, which translates their thoughts to the computer screen. A dime-sized chip is placed on the brain to enable that to happen, Kaku told a packed crowd Thursday night at Stambaugh Auditorium.

When asked if that hurts, Kaku said the brain does not feel pain.

“The brain has no pain sensors,” Kaku said.

“It is the most complex object in the known universe,” he said.

Physics and computers have taught us more about the brain within the last five to 10 years than ever before, he said. And that knowledge is beginning to bring formerly only imagined abilities to reality.

Technology now exists to map the brain and even detect if someone is lying or telling the truth by the amount of activity inside the brain.

“You can see thoughts ricocheting around like a ping-pong ball in the living room,” he said.

In the talk laced with as much humor as science, the author and frequent television guest spoke as part of Youngstown State University’s Skeggs Lecture Series. He is a regular guest on “CBS This Morning” and other television shows, has hosted science programs on the BBC and the Discovery Channel and has written several books, including “The Future Of The Mind,” released in February and now a New York Times best seller.

Earlier Thursday, Kaku, the Henry Semat Chair in Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York, spoke to a group of Youngstown State University students, telling them while his high-school classmates were spending Christmas break shopping and caroling, he was building an atom smasher in his mother’s garage.

“It blew out all of the fuses in the house,” he said.

Kaku decided he wanted to be a scientist when he was 8. His elementary-school teacher came into the classroom, telling students that the greatest scientist had just died.

“It changed my life,” he said.

He remembers a photograph of the scientist’s desk in the newspaper with an unfinished manuscript. That scientist was Albert Einstein, and the unfinished manuscript was “the theory of everything.” Kaku made it his pursuit to complete that theory.

“It was an equation one-inch long and it was reading the mind of God,” he said.

Kaku is co-founder of string-field theory, a major branch of string theory, which is the leading candidate today for the theory of everything.

String theory is almost science fiction, he said. It sees 11 dimensions.

“Only in other dimensions do we have enough room to unify all forces of nature,” he said.

Kaku referred to the discovery this week proving the universe expanded immediately after the Big Bang.

“Our universe is a bubble, and the bubble is expanding,” he said. “The new wrinkle in all of this is there could be other universes.”


1lovethiscity(140 comments)posted 4 months ago

Kudos to YSU for bringing the greatest physicist of our time to Youngstown. The placed was packed!

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2Boardman_Jeff(46 comments)posted 4 months ago

Very cool to see a visionary scientist like Kaku visit this depressing cesspool region and try to lay some knowledge on us. Our kids need to be inspired by someone like him who is a humble genius who craves the truth --- not criminal pro athletes and zero-talent pop stars.

Predictably, many Tea Party members who live in this area skipped this enlightening lecture and stayed home. They were too busy filling out applications to be the new "Bigot-in-Chief" of Westboro Baptist Church.

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3lovethiscity(140 comments)posted 4 months ago

I'm not sure who is worse. People like you who characterize our region as a "depressing cesspool" or the Tea Party.

Get out of the house much, Jeff?

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4MLC75(524 comments)posted 4 months ago

@jeff,if the area is such a cesspool,where are you here ?Jeff tell your mom,to let you out of the basement,sunshine will do you good.

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5walter_sobchak(1845 comments)posted 4 months ago

“It was an equation one-inch long and it was reading the mind of God,” he said.

While I find Kaku very intelligent and interesting, his arrogance knows no bounds. A Vulcan mind-meld with the Creator may actually cause his head to explode, a la "Scanners". ANd, as with Einstein, he too will one day die and meet the Creator.

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6300(553 comments)posted 4 months ago

Walter, you're just mad because people like him show the true stupidity of religion.

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7JoeFromHubbard(974 comments)posted 4 months ago

@ 300:

Most of the people who claim to not need some type of religion are truly lost souls.

Not "lost" in the sense redemption or "eternal" life but simply in what they want and do on this earth.

A few succeed in life while most wander aimlessly until death.

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8lovethiscity(140 comments)posted 4 months ago

300...I don't attack agnosticism or atheism as stupid. They are belief sets that any one is entitled to hold without criticism for doing so. I suggest you do the same when it comes to a person's religion.

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9walter_sobchak(1845 comments)posted 4 months ago

I never mentioned any religion nor did I use "God" in my post. It was Kaku that used the term "God". By logic, he must, therefore, believe in God, as do I. He is the one that believes that God's mind can be read. Now, would it not make sense that if God can create the universe and something so complex as the human brain, he would also not make some sort of shield around his mind so that it could not be read? I believe Mr. Spock had such an shield but I may be wrong. I would think it would be easier to read the mind of a simpleton.

Now, as for the Big bang Theory (the actual theory, not the hilarious TV sitcom), it must have been truly big. But, what exactly exploded? What existed before the Big Bang? OK, here is another question. Let's surmise that the universe did begin with the Big Bang and this bubble is expanding. Into what is the universe actual expanding? Some large cosmic milk jug? Or, maybe it is just a donut that keeps going round and round (not a cream stick or a bismark). Or, maybe it does fold over like a taco and it will touch again. And, if he thinks that there may be other "universes" out there, he needs to call them something else because the universe is "it" in all totality! At least on this earth.

Man's arrogance is astounding! To attempt to quantify God and his creation, using some finite equation derived from a finite mind to explain the infinite is pure folly. We still haven't figured out the exact ratio for the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Nor have we cured the common cold which is truly God's "check" on our arrogance. While such conjecture about our existence and the universe can be fun, it will never be solved and we will all die.

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10Boardman_Jeff(46 comments)posted 4 months ago

Science and religion are both belief systems --- but one is based on evidence and the other based on subjective writings by Bronze Age simpletons.

Religion is allowed to be mocked because it has never presented any credible evidence for existence of a divine being except for some flowery words written thousands of years ago. Just because I write down that I saw a 300-ft pink unicorn running through the woods one time, doesnt make it true or credible now or many years into the future. That's essentially how the Bible and Koran were written --- mythical tales and nothing more.

We could also discuss how many psychological studies show that religiosity is inversely proportional to a person's education level, but most of you Tea Party nimrods already know this to be true.

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11300(553 comments)posted 4 months ago

Agnosticism is not a set of beliefs. Even most atheists do not have a set of beliefs, so to group them all together as the other side of the same coin as Christians/Muslims/Jew/etc isn't correct.

Hubbard Joe makes his claim as "most people..." without any evidence of his folksy-rhetorical claim. He's pulling it out thin air and passing it off as credible. It's not, and his assumptions about wandering aimlessly are absurd, even if he doesn't realize his inherent assumptions.

There's nothing wrong with ridiculing religion. It's a foolish set of beliefs. One of the true biblical Christians just died in Topeka, were his beliefs absurd? I think so.

The thing with religious people is that they give these rhetorical analogies and pass them off as factual. The "common cold" an example of some god's check on human arrogance is a prime example of this. That entire phrase is nonsensical. I could just as easily claim that Zeus is the reason we get sick.

If religion makes a person act better towards others (which rarely is the case, then I see it as harmless. Just another way someone comes to grip with things they're incapable of handling, and no different than seeing a therapist. But, to make a claim that "well, you'll see when you die and meet your creator" is farcical. There's no proof of any of that. In the entire existence of mankind no god ever appeared. No angels, devils, etc. for that matter. That's why religion is self-help therapy for those too ignorant to see a shrink.

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12Boardman_Jeff(46 comments)posted 4 months ago

I just hope I live long enough to see every Christian church in the Mahoning Valley bulldozed and science education centers for kids built in their place. Instead of religious nonsense being rammed into their developing minds, they will be taught evidence-based problem solving. That will enrich their lives a lot more than learning about a vengeful Sky Daddy who will roast them in Hell unless they follow all His rules.

As it stands now, children of the Tea Party henchman who live in this area get rewarded with a pat on the head and celebratory snack at Christ-Fil-A when they use a derogatory slur against a gay or black student at their school to make them feel inferior. Using the Bible as an operating manual of hate.

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13qz4k5y77(8 comments)posted 4 months ago

Boardman_Jeff -

Jesus loves you man!

God bless.

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1476Ytown(1206 comments)posted 4 months ago

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine"

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15JoeFromHubbard(974 comments)posted 4 months ago

@ Boardman_Jeff:

You should have been in Vietnam with me back in '68.

You would have gotten some religion.

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