Dr Michio Kaku

The BBC have reported that many of the science fiction ideas including invisibility cloaks, teleportation and even time travel may be closer to reality that you might think.

The news story follows a recently published book by the renowned theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku, who is the co-founder of string field theory (often referred to as the theory of everything).

Dr Kaku has been quite shocked to discover that many of the ideas behind science fiction are actually pretty close to becoming science fact. In the past some science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke were also considered futurologists and many of their science fiction stories have since become fact (Arthur C Clarke contributed to the concept of Geostationary Satellites as far back as 1947), so this finding isn't completely surprising.

What is suprising is just how far science has already come towards ideas like invisibility, teleportation and time travel:

Invisibility

Most scientists used to think this was completely impossible and would never be achieved, however according to Dr Kaku this view is wrong and this technology is quite possible. This view is re-inforced by the recent announcement by Professor Ulf Leonhardt at St Andrews University that he is working on a blue print for an invisibility device by using the laws of refraction. You can more details about this over at BBC News.

The University of Tokyo has even made a working prototype invisibility cloak, however this is currently limited to only being invisible when viewed from a certain angle. How stuff works has more information about this.

Teleportation

This has been successfully accomplished as far back as 1998 (over 10 years ago) by a team of physcists at Caltech who teleported a photon (particle of energy) across the distance of about 1 metre. When this experiment was performed the team managed to get past the "heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" that is the main barrier for teleportation by using a phenomenon known as entanglement.

This breakthrough was superseeded in 2002 when researchers at the Australian National University succesfully teleported a Laser Beam.

The most succesful teleportation experiment to date though was in 2006 when Dr Eugene Polzik and his team at the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Demark managed to teleport information stored in a laser beam into a cloud of atoms.

According to Dr Polzik,

"It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium"

Since this time further advances have been made and the world record for teleportation currently stands at 600m. Though still at the particle stage, Dr Kaku predicts that molecules will be teleported within a decade and eventually to the distance of the moon.

Teleportation of real people as seen in Star Trek is still some way off though as the machine would need to pinpoint and analyze every single one of the 1028 (over a trillion trillion) atoms that make up a human body. This machine would then have to send this information to the destination and then put each and every atom back in exactly the right place.

Time Travel

Time travel is the biggest idea that could by far have the farest reaching consequences. Since HG Wells populised the concept of time travel, the idea has spawned countless films, novels and TV series. But could anyone really ever travel through time? Dr Kaku thinks so:

"Time travel is definitely on the table, and in principle it may be possible to build a time machine. So, if one day somebody knocks on your door and claims to be your great-great-great-grand-daughter, don't slam the door."

So what about that age old favorite of Star Trek and other series, the Time Paradox, if you travel in the past will you not change the future? Yes and no is the answer Dr Kaku believes, while he agrees with Einstein when he described time as a river, rivers can have wirlpools, eddies and can fork along different paths.

If we relate this analogy to time, changing the past would result in a fork of time which travels along a parallel universe, this fit's in with the theory that for each decision or event, there is a corresponding number of parallel universe's. In this case you do not change the past but simply ride along an alternative universe.