[Paleopsych] Michio Kaku: Could a hole in space save man from extinction?

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Could a hole in space save man from extinction?
    (Filed: 05/01/2005)

    In the next decade, powerful satellites will help us to understand
    life, the fate of our universe and the 'theory of everything', says
    Michio Kaku

    The great 19th-century biologist Thomas Huxley once wrote that the
    "question of all questions for humanity... is that of the
    determination of man's place in Nature and his relation to the

      Other earthlings: In 2014 the Planet Finder will begin hunting for
                          small, Earth-like planets

    We might soon be able to provide the answer to this huge riddle as a
    battery of instruments - including satellites, gravity wave detectors
    and laser devices - not only begins to give us startling insights into
    our place in the cosmos, but also forces us to confront the birth and
    final death of the universe - and even the possible existence of
    parallel universes.

    In the next decade, powerful new satellites will find evidence of
    Earth-like twins orbiting other stars.

    So far, our instruments are so crude that we can only detect about 130
    giant, Jupiter-sized planets, which are probably devoid of life. In
    2006, the Kepler satellite will be launched with a mission to analyse
    100,000 stars for large planets.

    But in 2014, the Terrestrial Planet Finder will begin to hunt for
    small, Earth-like planets in 500 star systems with a telescope
    designed to screen out the mother stars, whose light otherwise
    overwhelms the faint radiation from any nearby planets.

    If these efforts pay off, people will have an existential shock,
    knowing that, when gazing at these twins in the night sky, there might
    be someone looking back. The thought of detecting intelligence in the
    universe is exhilarating to most scientists.

    However, as science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke once cautioned:
    "There may be intelligent life in space or not. Either thought is

    Cosmology, our understanding of the universe, might be revolutionised
    when the Lisa (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna) is launched in

    It will orbit the Sun at the same distance as the Earth, but trailing
    us by 30 million miles. Consisting of three satellites linked by laser
    beams, it will form a huge triangle of laser light about three million
    miles on each side.

    If a gravity wave from space hits this triangle, it will cause a tiny
    distortion in the laser beams, which will be detectable by its
    instruments. (Lisa will detect optical distortions one hundredth the
    size of an atom.)

    Lisa should be able to detect cosmic explosions nine billion light
    years from Earth, which cut across much of the visible universe, as
    well as colliding black holes and even the shock waves emitted a
    trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, which are still circulating
    around the universe.

    Hence it might be capable of resolving the most perplexing and
    stubborn question facing cosmology: what happened before the instant
    of Genesis?

    In the various pre-Big Bang theories that have been proposed, each
    predicts a different type of shock wave of gravity emitted once the
    explosion takes place.

    Lisa, by analysing the precise frequencies and wave-like patterns of
    the gravity waves emitted at the instant of the Big Bang, should be
    able to distinguish between them and prove or disprove the theories.

    So far, the leading theory is called "inflation" and postulates an
    unbelievably fast, turbo-charged expansion of the early universe after
    the Big Bang of creation.

    However, if the inflation process happened once, it can happen again.
    The latest version of this is called "chaotic inflation", in which big
    bangs can happen randomly.

    Like soap bubbles that split and sprout other soap bubbles, universes
    can bud and create new "baby universes". In this picture, big bangs
    are happening all the time, even as you read this article.

    But to understand what caused inflation, physicists have to reach for
    a theory that can incorporate both gravity and all known forms of
    radiation - the so-called "theory of everything".

    The only candidate for this is called string theory, or M-theory, in
    which universes can float in 11-dimensional hyperspace in a
    "multiverse" of universes.

    Imagine two parallel sheets of paper; ants on one sheet would be
    invisible to ants on the other, yet they are separated by a few
    inches. Similarly, if a parallel universe hovered a millimetre from
    ours in another dimension, it would be invisible.

    As fantastic as these theories are, Lisa might be able to prove or
    disprove them because each of them leaves behind a different
    "fingerprint" or pattern of gravity waves when the Big Bang occurs.

    Ominously, satellites are also giving us a glimpse into the ultimate
    fate of the universe. Philosophers have wondered if the universe will
    die in fire or ice. The data overwhelmingly favour the Big Freeze
    rather than a Big Crunch.

    The universe, in fact, is not slowing down, but accelerating,
    careering out of control in runaway mode. A mysterious form of energy,
    dubbed "dark energy", is acting like an anti-gravity force that is
    pushing the galaxies apart, causing the universe to accelerate
    uncontrollably and eventually blowing it apart.

                Michio Kaku: professor of theoretical physics

    In the distant future, billions to trillions of years from now, the
    stars will exhaust their nuclear fuel, the oceans will freeze, the
    universe will turn dark and temperatures will plunge to almost zero.
    It appears inevitable that all intelligent life will perish when the
    universe itself freezes over.

    This possibility of "unyielding despair" was explored by the
    mathematician Bertrand Russell, who wrote, in one of the most
    depressing passages in the English language, that "no fire, no
    heroism, no intensity of thought or feeling, can preserve a life
    beyond the grave... all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all
    the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are
    destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system; and the
    whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath
    the debris of a universe in ruins..."

    Today, we believe that space arks might one day preserve life after
    the death of the Sun in five billion years. But can you build a space
    ark to escape the death of the universe itself?

    The only possible way to avoid the death of the universe is to leave.
    Perhaps civilisations billions of years ahead of ours will harness
    enough energy to punch a hole in space and escape, in a
    hyper-dimensional space ark, to a new universe.

    Although it seems far-fetched, even preposterous, physicists have
    seriously considered this possibility using the known laws of physics.
    Einstein's equations, for example, allow for the possibility of
    "Einstein-Rosen bridges" connecting two parallel universes. (Imagine
    two horizontal parallel sheets of paper connected by a thin vertical

    The energy necessary to create such a "wormhole" connecting two
    universes is truly immense - the Planck energy, or 1019 billion
    electron volts (a quadrillion times the energy of our largest atom

    In desperation, an advanced civilisation might create huge banks of
    laser beams and atom smashers to create the unbelievably intense
    temperatures, energy and densities necessary to open up holes in space
    and leave the universe.

    Calculations show that these gigantic machines must be the size of
    star systems, but this might be possible for civilisations billions of
    years ahead of ours. Unfortunately, some preliminary calculations show
    that the wormhole might only be microscopic in size. If so, an
    advanced civilisation might resort to shooting molecular-sized robots,
    called "nanobots", through the wormhole.

    Once on the other side, these nanobots would then create huge DNA
    factories to grow clones and replicas of their creators. Since they
    would contain the entire database of their civilisation, they would
    use this to resurrect it in another universe.

    Although the physical bodies of these individuals will die when the
    universe freezes over, their genetic twins will live on, so that their
    civilisation, like a Phoenix, may flourish again.

    As incredible as these scenarios are, they are consistent with the
    known laws of physics and biology.

    So, when contemplating the question raised by Huxley in 1863, our true
    role in the universe might be to spread the precious germ of
    intelligent life throughout it and, one day, to spread the seed of
    life by leaving a dying universe for a warmer one.

    Michio Kaku is professor of theoretical physics at the City University
    of New York. This article is adapted from his forthcoming book,
    Parallel Worlds (Penguin Books), which is published on February 3. To
    order for £16.99 + £2.25 p&p, please call Telegraph Books Direct on
    0870 155 7222.

    Dr Kaku will be on tour in Britain at the end of the month: Mon Jan
    31, 7.30pm, the ICA event at the London Planetarium, with Prof John
    Barrow, tel: ICA Box Office 020 7930 3647 Tues Feb 1, 8pm, Borders
    Bookshop, Cambridge, tel: 01223 306188 Wed Feb 2, 7pm, the Royal
    Institution, London, tel: 020 7409 2992 Thurs Feb 3, 6pm ThinkTank,
    Birmingham Science Museum, tel: 0121 202 2222

    External links
    [22]NASA - Terrestrial Planet Finder
    [23]Terrestrial Planet Finder
    [24]Michio Kaku


   22. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/exit.jhtml;sessionid=NRI1L0W1QAVBXQFIQMFCM54AVCBQYJVC?exit=http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/TPF/tpf_index.html
   23. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/exit.jhtml;sessionid=NRI1L0W1QAVBXQFIQMFCM54AVCBQYJVC?exit=http://www.terrestrial-planet-finder.com/
   24. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/exit.jhtml;sessionid=NRI1L0W1QAVBXQFIQMFCM54AVCBQYJVC?exit=http://www.mkaku.org

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