Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Future - Michio Kaku

A while back I wrote a post about a future direction for a Tomorrowland theme, suggesting that perhaps theming could be done around the concept of free worlds, as suggested by Gerard K. O'Neill and described by Isaac Asimov in his book Extraterrestrial Civilizations. At that time I was trying to think of ideas for the future of both Epcot's FutureWorld, and Disneyland/Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowlands.

I'm almost done reading a book called Physics of the Impossible by physicist and explainer Michio Kaku, who also wrote Parallel Worlds and Hyperspace. In this book he takes various science fiction tropes and discusses them relative to the known laws of physics today. Topics include time travel, teleportation, force fields, invisibility, telepathy, robots, starships, faster than light travel, and of course parallel universes. He divides them into Class 1, 2 and 3 impossibilities. The first of these are technologies which are impossible today, but that do not violate the known laws of physics, so that they might be possible in this century. The second category are technologies that sort of "push the borders" of what is known about the physical world today, and if they are possible at all, wouldn't be realized for thousands, and maybe millions, of years in the future. The third are technologies that violate the known laws of physics, and for these to become possible, there would have to be a fundamental shift in physical laws.

Surprisingly, very few things are Class 3 impossibilities. Perpetual motion machines and precognition are the two that he discusses. The rest of those impossibilities are permitted in some form by the laws of physics as we know them today.

There is a certain type of child who is enthralled by this type of material. It's the same kid who loves Star Wars movies, and maybe loves Harry Potter books and movies. These kids are the ones who grow up to be tomorrow's scientists and astronauts, the thinkers of tomorrow. And it's not a rare type of child. So many boys are attracted to science fiction for more than the light saber battles, or the Terminator chase scenes. And girls are attracted to this subject matter, too, though I wonder how much of their interest is stifled as "inappropriate" for a young lady. (I have boys, so I don't really know this.)

I'm thinking about some possibilities for Disney theming around some of these ideas. They're in the far-off future, but within the realm of reality, which makes them targets for either Tomorrowland or Futureworld. We don't have to rely on Jules Verne's visions of the future to theme Tomorrowland; we have plenty of excitement available in newer thinking. You just have to know where to look for it.

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