Theoretical physicist and author Michio Kaku discusses his new book, "The Future of the Mind," and why the United States and the world is. The Future of the Mind Summary by Michio Kaku is an astonishing book that clarifies all the brand-new discoveries related to the human brain. Read "The Future of the Mind The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind" by Michio Kaku with Rakuten Kobo. Michio Kaku, the New.
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𝗣𝗗𝗙 | On Jan 1, , CR Sridhar and others published Michio Kaku: Future of the mind. The future of the mind: the scienti c quest to understand, enhance, and empower the mind / Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of Theoretical Physics. The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format.
Therefore the brain is constantly using shortcuts to conserve energy. The key to the new technique is to remove the lipids while keeping the neurons intact. Damage to this area can cause many problems, such as difficulty in locating parts of your own body. There is no shortage of proposals for this exploding eld. Then you create a better model, using more sophisticated parameters, and simulate it in time as well.
Astrologers and phrenologists claimed to nd the meaning of the universe in every constellation of the zodiac and in every bump on your head. Meanwhile, mind readers and seers have been alternately celebrated and vilified over the years. The universe and the mind continue to intersect in a variety of ways, thanks in no small part to some of the eye-opening ideas we often encounter in science ction. Reading these books as a child, I would daydream about being a member of the Slan, a race of telepaths created by A.
And in the movie Forbidden Planet, I wondered how an advanced civilization millions of years beyond ours could channel its enormous telekinetic powers to reshape reality to its whims and wishes. He would dazzle his audience with his spectacular magic tricks. He closed his eyes and began to concentrate, stating that he was beaming the name of a president of the United States. He asked people to write down the name that popped into their heads on a postcard and mail it in.
Back then, the legacy of Roosevelt was strong among those who had lived through the Depression and World War II, so this came as no surprise. I thought to myself that it would have been truly amazing if he had been thinking of President Millard Fillmore. I failed. In the process, I began to realize that the wondrous exploits of telepaths were probably impossible—at least without outside assistance. But in the years that followed, I also slowly learned another lesson: One just had to have an open, determined, and curious mind.
In particular, in order to understand whether the fantastic devices of science ction are possible, you have to immerse yourself in advanced physics. To understand the precise point when the possible becomes the impossible, you have to appreciate and understand the laws of physics.
These two passions have red up my imagination all these years: To illustrate this and to share my excitement in probing the ultimate laws of physics, I have written the books Hyperspace, Beyond Einstein, and Parallel Worlds.
And to express my fascination with the future, I have written Visions, Physics of the Impossible, and Physics of the Future. Over the course of writing and researching these books, I was continually reminded that the human mind is still one of the greatest and most mysterious forces in the world. The ancient Egyptians, for all their glorious accomplishments in the arts and sciences, believed the brain to be a useless organ and threw it away when embalming their pharaohs.
Aristotle was convinced that the soul resided in the heart, not the brain, whose only function was to cool down the cardiovascular system. Others, like Descartes, thought that the soul entered the body through the tiny pineal gland of the brain. But in the absence of any solid evidence, none of these theories could be proven. The brain There are an estimated billion neurons residing inside the skull with an exponential amount of neural connections and pathways. Back in , when the astronomer Carl Sagan wrote his Pulitzer Prize—winning book, The Dragons of Eden, he broadly summarized what was known about the brain up to that time.
His book was beautifully written and tried to represent the state of the art in neuroscience, which at that time relied heavily on three main sources. The rst was comparing our brains with those of other species. This was tedious and di cult because it involved dissecting the brains of thousands of animals. The second method was equally indirect: Only an autopsy performed after their death could reveal which part of the brain was malfunctioning.
Third, scientists could use electrodes to probe the brain and slowly and painfully piece together which part of the brain influenced which behavior. But the basic tools of neuroscience did not provide a systematic way of analyzing the brain.
You could not simply requisition a stroke victim with damage in the speci c area you wanted to study. Since the brain is a living, dynamic system, autopsies often did not uncover the most interesting features, such as how the parts of the brain interact, let alone how they produced such diverse thoughts as love, hate, jealousy, and curiosity.
It was one of the most revolutionary and seditious instruments of all time. All of a sudden, with your own two eyes, you could see the myths and dogma of the past evaporate like the morning mist. Instead of being perfect examples of divine wisdom, the moon had jagged craters, the sun had black spots, Jupiter had moons, Venus had phases, and Saturn had rings.
More was learned about the universe in the fifteen years after the invention of the telescope than in all human history put together. Like the invention of the telescope, the introduction of MRI machines and a variety of advanced brain scans in the mids and s has transformed neuroscience.
We have learned more about the brain in the last fteen years than in all prior human history, and the mind, once considered out of reach, is finally assuming center stage. Nobel laureate Eric R. Instead they came from a merger of these disciplines with the biology of the brain. Suddenly with these machines we could see thoughts moving within the living, thinking brain. As neurologist V.
In high school, for instance, I became aware of a new form of matter, called antimatter, and decided to conduct a science project on the topic. As it is one of the most exotic substances on Earth, I had to appeal to the old Atomic Energy Commission just to obtain a tiny quantity of sodium, a substance that naturally emits a positive electron anti- electron, or positron.
With my small sample in hand, I was able to build a cloud chamber and powerful magnetic eld that allowed me to photograph the trails of vapor left by antimatter particles.
Yet another technology I experimented with in high school was magnetic resonance. I attended a lecture by Felix Bloch of Stanford University, who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with Edward Purcell for the discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance.
Bloch explained to us high school kids that if you had a powerful magnetic eld, the atoms would align vertically in that eld like compass needles. Then if you applied a radio pulse to these atoms at a precise resonant frequency, you could make them ip over. When they eventually ipped back, they would emit another pulse, like an echo, which would allow you to determine the identity of these atoms.
Later, I used the principle of magnetic resonance to build a 2. Just a couple of years later, as a freshman at Harvard University, it was an honor to have Dr. Purcell teach me electrodynamics. Around that same time, I also had a summer job and got a chance to work with Dr.
Richard Ernst, who was trying to generalize the work of Bloch and Purcell on magnetic resonance. He succeeded spectacularly and would eventually win the Nobel Prize for Physics in for laying the foundation for the modern MRI magnetic resonance imaging machine. It is thrilling to see that, just within the last decade, advances in physics have made possible some of the feats of mentalism that excited me when I was a child. Using MRI scans, scientists can now read thoughts circulating in our brains.
Scientists can also In fact, such patients can do anything a normal person can do via a computer. Scientists are now going even further, by connecting the brain directly to an exoskeleton that these patients can wear around their paralyzed limbs. Quadriplegics may one day lead near-normal lives. Such exoskeletons may also give us superpowers enabling us to handle deadly emergencies.
One day, our astronauts may even explore the planets by mentally controlling mechanical surrogates from the comfort of their living rooms. As in the movie The Matrix, we might one day be able to download memories and skills using computers. In animal studies, scientists have already been able to insert memories into the brain. And if technical skills can be downloaded into the minds of workers and scientists, this may even a ect the world economy.
We might even be able to share these memories as well. Technology may also give us the power to enhance our intelligence. Furthermore, the genes that separate us from the apes are now being sequenced, giving us an unparalleled glimpse into the evolutionary origins of the brain. Genes have already been isolated in animals that can increase their memory and mental performance.
The excitement and promise generated by these eye-opening advances are so enormous that they have also caught the attention of the politicians. In fact, brain science has suddenly become the source of a transatlantic rivalry between the greatest economic powers on the planet.
In January , both President Barack Obama and the European Union announced what could eventually become multibillion-dollar funding for two independent projects that would reverse engineer the brain.
Deciphering the intricate neural circuitry of the brain, once considered hopelessly beyond the scope of modern science, is now the focus of two crash projects that, like the Human Genome Project, will change the scienti c and medical landscape. Not only will this give us unparalleled insight into the mind, it will also generate new industries, spur economic activity, and open up new vistas for neuroscience.
Once the neural pathways of the brain are nally decoded, one can envision understanding the precise origins of mental illness, perhaps leading to a cure for this ancient a iction. This decoding also makes it possible to create a copy of the brain, which raises philosophical and ethical questions. Who are we, if our consciousness can be uploaded into a computer? We can also toy with the concept of immortality.
Our bodies may eventually decay and die, but can our consciousness live forever? And beyond that, perhaps one day in the distant future the mind will be freed of its bodily constraints and roam among the stars, as several scientists have speculated.
Centuries from now, one can imagine placing our entire neural blueprint on laser beams, which will then be sent into deep space, perhaps the most convenient way for our consciousness to explore the stars. A brilliant new scienti c landscape that will reshape human destiny is now truly opening up.
We are now entering a new golden age of neuroscience. In making these predictions, I have had the invaluable assistance of scientists who graciously allowed me to interview them, broadcast their ideas on national radio, and even take a TV crew into their laboratories. These are the scientists who are laying the foundation for the future of the mind. For their ideas to be incorporated into this book, I made only two requirements: Einstein was also touched by mental illness in another way; one of his closest colleagues was the physicist Paul Ehrenfest, who helped Einstein create the theory of general relativity.
Over the years, I have found that many of my colleagues and friends have struggled to manage mental illness in their families. Mental illness has also deeply touched my own life. It was heartbreaking to see her gradually lose her memories of her loved ones, to gaze into her eyes and realize that she did not know who I was.
I could see the glimmer of humanity slowly being extinguished. She had spent a lifetime struggling to raise a family, and instead of enjoying her golden years, she was robbed of all the memories she held dear.
As the baby boomers age, the sad experience that I and many others have had will be repeated across the world. My wish is that rapid advances in neuroscience will one day alleviate the suffering felt by those afflicted with mental illness and dementia. The data pouring in from brain scans are now being decoded, and the progress is stunning.
Several times a year, headlines herald a fresh breakthrough. It took years, since the invention of the telescope, to enter the space age, but it has taken only fteen years since the introduction of the MRI and advanced brain scans to actively connect the Why so quickly, and how much is there to come?
Part of this rapid progress has occurred because physicists today have a good understanding of electromagnetism, which governs the electrical signals racing through our neurons.
The mathematical equations of James Clerk Maxwell, which are used to calculate the physics of antennas, radar, radio receivers, and microwave towers, form the very cornerstone of MRI technology. It took centuries to nally solve the secret of electromagnetism, but neuroscience can enjoy the fruits of this grand endeavor.
In Book I, I will survey the history of the brain and explain how a galaxy of new instruments has left the physics labs and given us glorious color pictures of the mechanics of thought.
In fact, I provide a ranking of consciousness, showing how it is possible to assign a number to various types of consciousness. I often surprise people with the simple fact that your cell phone today has more computer power than all of NASA when it put two men on the moon in Computers are now powerful enough to record the electrical signals emanating from the brain and partially decode them into a familiar digital language.
This makes it possible for the brain to directly interface with computers to control any object around it. The fast-growing eld is called BMI brain-machine interface , and the key technology is the computer.
These two crash programs will undoubtedly open up entirely new research areas, giving us new ways to treat mental illness and also revealing the deepest secrets of consciousness. After we have given a de nition of consciousness, we can use it to explore nonhuman consciousness as well i. How advanced can robots become? Can they have emotions?
Will they pose a threat? And we can also explore the consciousness of aliens, who may have goals totally different from ours. In the Appendix, I will discuss perhaps the strangest idea in all of science, the concept from quantum physics that consciousness may be the fundamental basis for reality. There is no shortage of proposals for this exploding eld. Only time will tell which ones are mere pipe dreams created by the overheated imagination of science- ction writers and which ones represent solid avenues for future scienti c research.
Progress in neuroscience has been astronomical, and in many ways the key has been modern I should stress that I am not a neuroscientist. I am a theoretical physicist with an enduring interest in the mind. I hope that the vantage point of a physicist can help further enrich our knowledge and give a fresh new understanding of the most familiar and alien object in the universe: But given the dizzying pace with which radically new perspectives are being developed, it is important that we have a firm grasp on how the brain is put together.
So let us rst discuss the origins of modern neuroscience, which some historians believe began when an iron spike sailed through the brain of a certain Phineas Gage. This seminal event set o a chain reaction that helped open the brain to serious scienti c investigation. Although it was an unfortunate event for Mr. Gage, it paved the way for modern science. Gage did not die on-site. He was semiconscious for weeks, but eventually made what seemed like a full recovery. A rare photograph of Gage surfaced in , showing a handsome, con dent man, with an injury to his head and left eye, holding the iron rod.
But after this incident, his coworkers began to notice a sharp change in his personality. A normally cheerful, helpful foreman, Gage became abusive, hostile, and sel sh. Ladies were warned to stay clear of him.
A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, yet with the animal passions of a strong man. Harlow preserved both his skull and the rod that had smashed into it.
Detailed X-ray scans of the skull have since con rmed that the iron rod caused massive destruction in the area of the brain behind the forehead known as the frontal lobe, in both the left and right cerebral hemispheres.
This incredible accident would not only change the life of Phineas Gage, it would alter the course of science as well. Previously, the dominant thinking was that the brain and the soul were two separate entities, a philosophy called dualism. This, in turn, created a paradigm shift in scienti c thinking: Broca con rmed during the autopsy that the patient su ered from a lesion in his left temporal lobe, a region of the brain near his left ear.
Broca would later con rm twelve similar cases of patients with damage to this speci c area of the brain. In general, patients with this Soon afterward, in , German physician Carl Wernicke described patients who su ered from the opposite problem.
They could articulate clearly, but they could not understand written or spoken speech. Often these patients could speak uently with correct grammar and syntax, but with nonsensical words and meaningless jargon. Wernicke con rmed after performing autopsies that these patients had su ered damage to a slightly di erent area of the left temporal lobe. The works of Broca and Wernicke were landmark studies in neuroscience, establishing a clear link between behavioral problems, such as speech and language impairment, and damage to specific regions of the brain.
Another breakthrough took place amid the chaos of war. Throughout history, there were many religious taboos prohibiting the dissection of the human body, which severely restricted progress in medicine. In warfare, however, with tens of thousands of bleeding soldiers dying on the battle eld, it became an urgent mission for doctors to develop any medical treatment that worked.
During the Prusso-Danish War in , German doctor Gustav Fritsch treated many soldiers with gaping wounds to the brain and happened to notice that when he touched one hemisphere of the brain, the opposite side of the body often twitched. Later Fritsch systematically showed that, when he electrically stimulated the brain, the left hemisphere controlled the right side of the body, and vice versa.
This was a stunning discovery, demonstrating that the brain was basically electrical in nature and that a particular region of the brain controlled a part on the other side of the body. Curiously, the use of electrical probes on the brain was rst recorded a couple of thousand years earlier by the Romans. In the year A.
Wilder Penfield began working with epilepsy patients, who often su ered from debilitating convulsions and seizures that were potentially life-threatening. For them, the last option was to have brain surgery, which involved removing parts of the skull and exposing the brain. Since the brain has no pain sensors, a person can be conscious during this entire procedure, so Dr.
Penfield used only a local anesthetic during the operation. Pen eld noticed that when he stimulated certain parts of the cortex with an electrode, di erent parts of the body would respond. He suddenly realized that he could draw a rough one-to-one correspondence between speci c regions of the cortex and the human body. His drawings were so accurate that they are still used today in almost unaltered form. They had an immediate impact on both the scienti c community and the general public.
In one diagram, you could see which region of the brain roughly controlled which function, and how important each function was. For example, because our hands and mouth are so vital for survival, a considerable amount of brain power is Furthermore, Pen eld found that by stimulating parts of the temporal lobe, his patients suddenly relived long-forgotten memories in a crystal-clear fashion.
When he published his results in , they created another transformation in our understanding of the brain. Figure 1. This is the map of the motor cortex that was created by Dr. Wilder Penfield, showing which region of the brain controls which part of the body. In Figure 2, we see the neocortex, which is the outer layer of the brain, divided into four lobes. It is highly developed in humans. All the lobes of the brain are devoted to processing signals from our senses, except for one: The prefrontal cortex, the foremost part of the frontal lobe, is where most rational thought is processed.
The information you are reading right now is being processed in your prefrontal cortex. Damage to this area can impair your ability to plan or contemplate the future, as in the case of Phineas Gage.
This is the region where information from our senses is evaluated and a future course of action is carried out. Figure 2. The four lobes of the neocortex of the brain are responsible for different, though related, functions. The right hemisphere controls sensory attention and body image; the left hemisphere controls skilled movements and some aspects of language.
Damage to this area can cause many problems, such as difficulty in locating parts of your own body. The occipital lobe is located at the very back of the brain and processes visual information from the eyes. Damage to this area can cause blindness and visual impairment. The temporal lobe controls language on the left side only , as well as the visual recognition of faces and certain emotional feelings.
Damage to this lobe can leave us speechless or without the ability to recognize familiar faces. When you look at other organs of the body, such as our muscles, bones, and lungs, there seems to be an obvious rhyme and reason to them that we can immediately see. But the structure of the brain might seem slapped together in a rather chaotic fashion.
He divided the brain into three parts. Since then, studies have shown that there are re nements to this model, but we will use it as a rough organizing principle to explain the overall structure of the brain. First, he noticed that the back and center part of our brains, containing the brain stem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia, are almost identical to the brains of reptiles.
They also control behaviors such as ghting, hunting, mating, and territoriality, which are necessary for survival and reproduction. The reptilian brain can be traced back about million years. See Figure 3. But as we evolved from reptiles to mammals, the brain also became more complex, evolving outward and creating entirely new structures.
The limbic system is prominent among animals living in social groups, such as the apes. It also contains structures that are involved in emotions. Since the dynamics of social groups can be quite complex, the limbic system is essential in sorting out potential enemies, allies, and rivals. Figure 3. Last but not least, we refer to the prefrontal cortex. It is kind of an extra feature that acts as a divider between different species, including the mammals.
In fact, it is an integral part of the outer layer and located behind the forehead, which is not the case with other mammals. Nonetheless, despite these differences, we share many things with our four or two-legged friends. Generally speaking, the population is quite familiar with the fact that our brain is split into two hemispheres — left and right. Both cover unique motoric and mental functions, fairly similar but not totally identical to the other one. These so-called specific functions can also be subdivided according to your needs.
For instance, the left hemisphere is in charge of the muscles that are located in the right area of the human body. However, the right one covers those, which are placed on the left side. Since the start of the turbulent era of the s, the scientists equipped with the latest medical technology began to dive into the unknown of the brain and discovered that the process of evolving is not yet reached its peak.
Brain probing and Optogenetics 2. Quench your thirst for knowledge 3. Telepathy and its impact. Another brain application emerged known as brain probing. Optogenetics is another thing coming, kind of like an update of the previously explained brain-probing. He acknowledges that the society has developed treatments for severe and minor brain issues, at the expense of human resources. Paperback —. Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks. Add to Cart Add to Cart.
Also by Michio Kaku.
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