Invisibility, telepathy and teleportation are all physically impossible. Or are they? In a lecture on the 20th November 2020 theoretical physicist and bestselling author Professor Michio Kaku (City College of New York) showed that not only are they possible but that many 'superhuman' abilities once confined to the realm of science fiction are already in some form a reality or on the verge of becoming so. Professor Kaku delved into the physical states of the impossible, the probable and that which still remains impossible (at least for now) when he spoke on "Physics of the Impossible Revisited" to over 850 attendees from around the world at this term's event by the St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics (HAPP).
The lecture spanned the spectrum of areas in physics commonly considered to be impossible from time machines to force fields to sub-light speed spaceships popularised by Flash Gordon, Star Trek and Star Wars, but which nevertheless do not break the Laws of Physics and many of which are currently being developed as attainable emergent or future technologies. Professor Kaku discussed how even the testing of to date untestable hypotheses about the Universe, namely those put forward by String Theory, will possibly come within reach.
Live Q&A posted online throughout the event saw dozens of questions from members of the audience with Professor Kaku giving additional insights into the more philosophical aspects raised by the possibilities of such physical concepts becoming reality.
Building on the huge success of HAPP's first virtual event in July, this second online event demonstrated that although there are physical barriers posed by the pandemic to meeting and interacting in person in Oxford due to social distancing, this new virtual format continues to offer new and exciting possibilities for bringing together both a local and global audience with attendees joining from around the world, hailing from every continent except Antarctica.
A video of the lecture is now available at https://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/event/physics-of-the-impossible-revisited.
Dr Jo Ashbourn
Director of the HAPP Centre