In my field, theoretical physics, the greatest challenge is to complete Einstein’s dream, a ‘theory of everything’ which will unify all the laws of physics into a single equation, perhaps no more than one inch long. This theory will allow us to ‘read the mind of god’, in the words of Einstein.
This theory will explain some of the deepest secrets of the universe, such as where the Big Bang came from, the possibility of time travel, the ultimate fate of the universe, the possible existence of parallel universes and higher dimensions, the true nature of black holes, the mystery of dark matter and dark energy. The leading candidate for this theory is called string theory, but it is too complex to be solved completely by today’s math. Perhaps a young person will be inspired by all of this discussion to help complete the entire theory.
Society has to address the question of the dramatically changing economy. We are now seeing a historic shift in the nature of economics: the transition from commodity-based capitalism to intellectual-based capitalism. Commodity prices have fallen steadily for the past 150 years, and will continue to fall. Nations which base their economy strictly on commodities may see their wealth disappear. In the future, wealth will increasingly come from intellectual capitalism (e.g. high tech, computers and telecommunications, entertainment, creativity, leadership, analysis, experience), yet how many nations are prepared for this?
The challenge of intellectual capitalism is that we have to educate our people to the immense strides being made in science and technology, yet only a handful of nations are doing this. The future belongs to those nations and individuals who understand and can master intellectual capitalism.
Michio Kaku is author of books including Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding Of Space And Time (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and Our Future in the Cosmos (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.