Quirks & Quarks

Four far out visions for the future of humanity from Michio Kaku

We could boil the galaxy and beam digitized selves to far flung stars.
World reknowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku talks about his new book "The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth" (AFP/Getty Images)

Michio Kaku is a world-renowned physicist and futurist about his new book is The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and our Destiny Beyond Earth. In it he lays out his visions for how humanity can break free of our earthly confines and continue existing millions of years into the future. Here are four of his incredible visions.

The hostile environment of Mars can be changed to make it more habitable

"First we have to mine the ice. Mars has plenty of ice. Ice is great when melted for drinking water. You can break it up into hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen for breathing. So the first thing settlers would do is to create a mining colony to mine the ice. Then after that agriculture farming can be introduced. A genetically modified algae and crops can actually thrive in the Martian atmosphere which is mainly carbon dioxide. That'll create the first self-sufficient agriculture on Mars."

Melting the polar ice caps on Mars will provide water for habitation

"Further down the line we want to put up satellites to redirect sunlight to melt the polar ice caps. Mars has plenty of water but it's in ice form and it's locked in the poles. Why not melt the polar ice caps using solar satellites so that rivers lakes and oceans can once again flourish on the planet Mars. Realize that three billion years ago Mars had an ocean about the size of the United States of America."

Starships the size of postage stamps could reach the nearest stars

"My colleague Stephen Hawking has already gotten some other Silicon Valley billionaires to bankroll to the tune of $100 million dollars [a project] shooting computer chips to the nearest star. We're talking about getting a computer chip full of sensors and putting it on a parachute, inflating the parachute with laser beams - 100 billion watts of power worth - and shooting these parachutes up to 20 percent the speed of light. And bingo in 20 years … a starship the size of a postage stamp which could in fact reach the nearby stars. So this is already being funded at the present time and prototypes of it should begin to be tested in the coming decade. So we're confident that we can reach the nearby stars with postage stamps."

When the universe gets too cold for us, we should leave for a new baby universe

"Personally, I believe that trillions of years from now when the universe gets too cold we should leave the universe. By that time we'll have conquered what is called the Planck energy. The Planck energy is the energy of the big bang. It's the energy of a black hole. The energy at which space itself becomes unstable. Now you know that when you [heat] water sooner or later water becomes unstable and it starts to boil. Space is similar if you heat up space to trillions of degrees. Pretty soon it becomes unstable and bubbles warm and these bubbles are baby universes and so we think that yes trillions of years into the future perhaps when the universe gets to cold for humans we should leave the universe and just cook up another one and jump into that another."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity