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Desktop Diaries: Michio Kaku


You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow here with Flora Lichtman, our Video Pick of the Week. Flora, Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.


FLATOW: Back. What have we got? Something...

LICHTMAN: It's good this week.

FLATOW: It's always good. It's great. Most of the time, it's terrific.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: So you have another installment in your series of...

LICHTMAN: Yes, in the series of Desktop Diaries.

FLATOW: We need some organ music.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: I think we do need - I do think - I think of the same thing, we need some kind of...

FLATOW: When we last left Flora.

LICHTMAN: So Desktop Diary is just to remind people what the series is all about, is going into scientists or creative thinker's workspaces and seeing how they work and what their desk looks like.

The idea is that maybe some of the desks can tell us a little bit about the person. And so this week, it's Michio Kaku. And you may know him from his series on - he's been on the BBC and on the Discovery Channel. He's a theoretical physicist. He has a radio show. He's all over the place. So you might be familiar.

FLATOW: Very, very famous: Michio Kaku.

LICHTMAN: (Unintelligible) yeah, of course.

FLATOW: He's here at NYU or at City College.

LICHTMAN: City College.

FLATOW: City College, yeah.

LICHTMAN: And he is a theoretical physicist, so this brings up this question of what do you do all day if you're pondering the most deep questions related to reality? And what kind of workspace do you need. And, you know, we did Brian Greene a couple of weeks ago.

FLATOW: Right. Very neat. Very clean.

LICHTMAN: Very clean.

FLATOW: So I'm sure Michio's is exactly like that.

LICHTMAN: I watch them back to back because they couldn't be more different, it turns out. I mean, his workspace is really quite different from Brian Greene's. Apparently, he does not need the sort of serene cleanliness, so that's take -worth seeing. And I think the highlight of his office was a portrait that someone did of him as a Jedi knight. So if you've ever wanted to see Michio Kaku with a light saber, you can.

FLATOW: Wow. I just, this morning, woke up and said, it would make my day to see that.

LICHTMAN: Most people wake up, thinking that, yeah.

FLATOW: If you want - and if you want to see the Video Pick of the Week, it's up on our website at sciencefriday.com. Michio Kaku's office. And I tweeted and wrote on our Facebook page, my challenge was to watch that video and find a place to sit down.

LICHTMAN: We couldn't find one. So if you could, that would be good. And, you know, the other thing is that we've done we've done Oliver Sachs too and we're looking for other ideas for Desktop Diaries subjects. Who's desk would you like to see?


LICHTMAN: Go to our website and let us know. Or go to Facebook and let us know - yeah. We're looking for (unintelligible).

FLATOW: Who's desktop - might have an interesting desktop - line of work. And you can really tell - as you say, you know, Brian Greene was so neat. Just because they're both theoretical physicists...


FLATOW: Was there a big black board in his office, where, you know, you think Einstein might be scribbling those equations?

LICHTMAN: There were some scribbles. There are some scribbles. It was outside of the office. The office itself had a lot of books. And that's the other thing - he's a futurist.

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: So - and his last book is about "What the World is going to look like in 2010, sorry, 2100.

FLATOW: One hundred.

LICHTMAN: And it's going to look very different. But so you might be curious about what someone who thinks about the future and contemplates the futures often would look like.

FLATOW: Right. Also, definitely, one of us - one of we packrats.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. It was a little counterintuitive for us, I think.

FLATOW: Yeah. I mean, because there's stuff in there that you would have said -or in my office, which has the same stuff. Gee, why don't you get rid of that? I can't throw that out. It might be good for something, right?

LICHTMAN: Exactly. Exactly. He calls them dinosaurs. There are some stegosaurus and brontosauruses in there. So...

FLATOW: And he...

LICHTMAN: But that's worth seeing, just for museum quality - technology.

FLATOW: Yeah. And there's a geological filing system, right, with strata, piled.

LICHTMAN: Which I totally relate to, I'd like to say.

FLATOW: All right. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: Flora Lichtman with our Video Pick of the Week. And you can see that up on our website at sciencefriday.com. It's up there on the left side. You can click on it and get a bigger picture and watch Desk Diaries: Michio Kaku this week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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