Question: Will we one day evolve to have superhuman abilities like infrared-sight or telepathy or telekinesis? (Submitted by Roy Janho)
Michio Kaku: Roy, at the present time our senses are inadequate to do the things you mentioned. However, with the addition of technology it is very easy to imagine a time in the future when we would have super-senses. For example, our eyeball can only see red, green and blue, the primary colors, but animals can see different colors. Bees, for example, can see ultraviolet radiation. That is how they lock onto the sun. When it’s raining and it’s cloudy you think that bees would starve to death because they don’t know where the flower patch is. Wrong, they lock onto to sun, and under ultraviolet radiation bees can see the sun.
So for us, however, we can’t see infrared. We can’t see ultraviolet. However, it is possible that one day we’ll have contact lenses... contact lenses with full internet capability so we will blink and we will be online. And these contact lenses could be sensitive to infrared or ultraviolet radiation in which case we could see radiation that is invisible to us.
Already, it’s possible to get the x-ray vision of Superman. If you think of Superman comics you think: "No way, you can’t have x-ray vision. You have to have a photographic film behind the person. You would have to shine x-rays, develop the film to get the x-ray of the person. You can’t do that with an eyeball." It turns out we can. There is something called backscattered x-rays which gives you x-ray vision a la Superman almost indistinguishable from the x-ray vision of Superman comics. Here is how you do it: You get a light bulb that emits x-ray radiation that floods a room. The x-rays bounce off the walls. Then you put on special goggles or lenses which are sensitive to x-rays. X-rays hit the wall, go behind the person’s back, go through the person and into your goggles. That is how you do it without photographic film. It’s called backscattered x-rays. It already exists and in fact because of the 9/11 attack there has been a rush... a rush to put backscattered x-rays in airports at the present time. In fact, it’s already causing civil liberties lawsuits because some people don’t want their privacy invaded. They don’t want a Superman to look at them with their x-ray vision.
So... and even telepathy. We have certain forms of telepathy even today by putting MRI scans and EG scans onto our brainwaves, so we can actually peer now into the fabric of our own thoughts. It’s rather primitive. However, we have a dictionary, a dictionary of objects like dogs, cats, houses and brain patterns. So by looking at a person’s brain pattern through an MRI you can actually tell if the person is looking at a dog or a cat. That exists today. In the future our vocabulary of maybe 20 pictures may be increased to a few thousand and at that point that is beginning to look like real telepathy.
Recorded September 29, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman