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The Future of Humanity

Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth

By Michio Kaku
15-minute read
Audio available
The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth by Michio Kaku

The Future of Humanity (2018) explores the challenges we face finding new homes on other, potentially hostile, planets. As physicist Michio Kaku shows us, this scenario is no longer science fiction, but rather a very pressing concern for scientists and future-minded entrepreneurs. Kaku presents the options currently being explored as well as the many problems that are on the verge of being solved.

  • Fans of speculative science
  • Students of physics and planetary science
  • Astronomy enthusiasts

Michio Kaku is a world-renowned futurist and professor of theoretical physics at City University in New York. He is currently a science correspondent at CBS and the host of several radio and TV programs on science. He is also the author of several popular science books including The Future of the Mind (2014) and Physics of the Future (2011).

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The Future of Humanity

Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth

By Michio Kaku
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth by Michio Kaku
Synopsis

The Future of Humanity (2018) explores the challenges we face finding new homes on other, potentially hostile, planets. As physicist Michio Kaku shows us, this scenario is no longer science fiction, but rather a very pressing concern for scientists and future-minded entrepreneurs. Kaku presents the options currently being explored as well as the many problems that are on the verge of being solved.

Key idea 1 of 9

For over a century now, scientists have been nerding out on rockets.

There’s a lot of attention on space travel these days, with privately owned ventures like SpaceX making headlines in their mission to take customers into the great beyond.

Sending rockets into space has been a human endeavor for quite some time, going back further than the 1950s, which saw the so-called space race between the US and Russia.

The first major scientific breakthrough in space travel came from the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. In 1903, he published work that included the Tsiolkovsky equation, which provided a solid mathematical relationship between a rocket’s fuel and the rate of speed it could achieve. With this equation, Tsiolkovsky revealed that it was indeed possible for a rocket to escape the Earth’s atmosphere, and scientists could now calculate how much fuel was needed to travel to the moon or Mars.

Tsiolkovsky’s work laid the foundation for other trailblazers like the American scientist Robert Goddard. It was Goddard who first made the switch from powdered to liquid fuel, as well as introducing efficient multi-staged rockets made up of multiple fuel tanks jettisoned as dead weight after use.

More advancements came in the 1940s. Wernher Von Braun was a graduate student of physics when Germany began its militarization under the Nazi regime. He found work as a rocket scientist with the nation’s massive push to develop cutting-edge weapons. Being strictly a rocket nerd, he wasn’t interested in politics when he accepted generous amounts of government funding and was made the head of the V-2 project, or Vengeance Weapon 2.

With a wealth of funding and the best scientists at his disposal, von Braun’s V-2 rocket was three times faster than the speed of sound and invulnerable to defenses. While it set new records in rocketry, it would also prove devastating when used as a missile against the cities of London and Antwerp during 1944.

Von Braun was later arrested by the Gestapo after witnessing the slave labor camps that helped build his rockets and he expressed regret about contributing to the Nazi war machine. Nevertheless, von Braun would be integral to the space race that followed.

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