March 19 2011,
"Empires of the future will be the empires of the mind."
- Winston Churchill
The above quote is taken from the first page of Dr. Michio Kaku's newest book Physics of the Future. For those of you who don't know who Dr. Kaku is; he is a father, scientist, physicist, author, TV and radio personality, “communicator” and “popularizer” of science, and is a co-founder of String theory. Dr. Kaku has been engaged in a most ambitious goal of defining the “Theory of Everything”. The “Theory of Everything” has been a focus of Dr. Kaku since embarking on his career into the field of science. Completing this theory started as a dream of Albert Einstein, and it is now the shared dream of Dr. Kaku.
“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is not hope for it.”
- Albert Einstein
What do the following have in common: the eve of a “Super Moon”, a gorgeous day, the Air and Space Museum, one Star-Trek outfit, an iconic long white hairdo, and a tie with grey and blue elephants on it? If you are wondering, this all came together for my wife and I this past Saturday March 19th, 2011. I woke this Saturday morning with the single goal of meeting Dr. Michio Kaku who was having a book signing event at the Air and Space Museum. Now you may ask; how did I end up at a book signing for one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists? Well the answer is quite simple you see; I looked it up. Yes call me a nerd if you must, but before you judge do you know that time travel is possible. Still not sold? Well that’s your problem, so get over yourself. For the rest of you please continue reading on if you like?
The day, as I stated earlier; was gorgeous, and my wife and I arrived at the Air and Space Museum a few hours early to grab a nice lunch and check out the museum before hand. As we arrived at the museum, we came across a group of scientists who had setup special viewing equipment that allowed us to see Sun spots and mass coronal ejections happening right then and there on the surface of the Sun! Well, technically we were viewing eight minutes in the Sun’s past! Now who said everyday science can’t be exciting? No takers? Well for those of you less inclined did you know Corona beer gets its name and logo from the Sun's Corona? I bet you probably never thought about it before. Now back to the day.
It was a busy day at the museum with swarms of people walking in, out, and every which way you can imagine. Washington D.C. was as busy as ever. As we made our way through the main entrance of the museum we headed for the information kiosk to find out where the book signing event was going to take place. As it turns out it was happening right in front of my face where it said Dr. Michio Kaku book signing. I put on a smile and made my way towards the designated area. As we made our way over to the area near the book store; I soon discovered that Dr. Kaku was unfortunately not giving a speech, but was there to only sign books for his fans. I was disappointed, but still excited to meet him.
I made the decision to wait in the very small line that had just begun to form. Boy was I glad I made this decision, but I will get to that a little later. As we waited there for the book signing to begin I soon realized that I probably wouldn’t have a real chance to talk to Dr. Kaku either. Some of the museum staff began telling the small line that was beginning to grow that he only had a few moments for each person since they were expecting a huge crowd. I was very disappointed to realize the reality of the situation, but I guess it was may fault for thinking that this event was going to be somewhat under the radar. How wrong can one man be? Apparently very, that small line that started with about eight of us was now reaching as far back as I could see. Let me inform you that the Air and Space museum is nearly two football fields in length.
With that being said my wife and I were privy to meeting the many people who had come to also meet Dr. Kaku. We met people that traveled locally such as ourselves, out-of-towners from different states, and even one man all the way from Sweden! It was impressive to say the least that one man has the ability to draw such huge crowds. We even had a very lively conversation with a man dressed in a full Star-Trek outfit! I did not catch his name, but he came all the way down from New York. I told you it was a very interesting day. As the day went on and the line grew we all waited patiently for Dr. Kaku to arrive.
About a 2:30 in the afternoon I was right in the middle of a game of Sudoku on my phone as Dr. Kaku made a very inconspicuous entrance to the table and chair waiting for him. The strangest part about meeting someone you look up to can be the sense of humility and normality that individual gives off. It is easy to build up someone on TV to be larger than life, but then to see them in the flesh and be normal just like the rest of us is a strange sensation. As Dr. Kaku began signing books for the first people in line I was struck at how polite and genuinely excited he was to meet his fans. I am sure book signing events of this magnitude like at the Air and Space Museum can be very long and grueling. As he began signing books Katie turned to me and said, “His hair really is long and it’s white.” We both looked at each other and began to laugh as I asked what did you expect his hair to look like? “I don’t know just different,” my wife said. Like I mentioned before, meeting someone in person is a strange experience, and it can throw you off.
So as the line began to move forward I started to get an excited feeling in the pit of my stomach. As the feeling began to grow the moment I had waited for was now only separated by one person! “Next”, Dr. Kaku called out. I made my way forward and handed Dr. Kaku his newest book I had just purchased that day. “To Robby and Katie”, he read out. There was a sticky note the museum staff had us write our note on that we wanted Dr. Kaku to sign on our book with. “Yes that is right” I said. “Thank you for signing my book Dr. Kaku, and it is nice to finally meet you. Would you mind if I also got a picture with you?” I asked even though the staff had said to not take pictures. “Your welcome and likewise, and of course you can.” He said. I then made my way around the table to stand with Dr. Kaku. As I made my way around the table I couldn’t help but realize Dr. Kaku’s tie that he had on. It was a light purple tie with small grey and blue elephants in diagonal lines. I don’t know why but that tie put a big smile on my face, and at that moment we had Katie take a picture of us. As I shook Dr. Kaku’s hand he then turned to me and asked if my wife wanted to take a picture with him also! I then proceeded to answer for Katie and said of course she would! I was able to snap a picture of the both of them, and we both said thank you and made our exit to the left of the table.
One moment. Sometimes that is all we can get. Nevertheless I had a great day with my wife, and of course it was my honor meeting Dr. Kaku if only for a moment. My only regret of the day was not getting to ask him one question. I had sat up one night earlier in the week thinking of one question that I could ask Dr. Kaku. I struggled with this thought for a long time, because I wanted to ask something as far as I knew from my research nobody else had asked him before. I thought of every type of scientific question possible for Dr. Kaku until I finally had one come to mind. I decided that if given the chance I would ask Dr. Kaku himself a question about his hero Albert Einstein.
Dr. Kaku if you had the ability to travel back in time for one moment, and ask Albert Einstein only one question what would you ask him?
I guess for the time being I will have to leave this question unfortunately unanswered. Perhaps one day I will have the chance to sit down with Dr. Kaku and have a full interview with him and ask him this question. Until then I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience, and please enjoy the pictures from the day!
- Making my approach to Dr. Kaku!
- Signing my book!
- Me and Dr. Kaku!
- Dr. Kaku with my wife. Notice how he looks slighly more excited to be taking a picture with her then me. I guess that is why he asked. I can't blame him either I would look happier to!
- Some other photo's from the day!
Dr. kaku with another fan
Dr. Kaku preparing to take another picture
Close ups of Dr. kaku signing books
- Oh and that Super Moon I mentioned!
Have a nice day!
- Robby Silk