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Specialized ProfessionWe are professional obituary writers who tell the life stories of those who’ve died. AUA!

Feb 20th 2018 by LinneaLegacy • 17 Questions • 40 Points

I’m a physicist and my primary vocation is doing theoretical physics, on paper, by hand. I also have a passion for explaining science, so I’ve written a number of popular science books—about hyperspace, the physics of the impossible, the future of the mind, and more. My newest is about The Future of Humanity: on Earth, across space, throughout time, all the way to our destiny among the stars.

Read more about The Future of Humanity here!

Proof: https://twitter.com/michiokaku/status/966262886883459072

Fire away! I’m ready for your best!

UPDATE: I have to go for an interview right now, but I'm really enjoying this. I hope to come back and answer more questions later tonight. Thank you everyone!

Q:

Can we contact obituary writers ahead of time to give them a better idea on what to write, and to pay?
What are some of the most interesting stories you have had the honor of writing?
Is there any piece of wisdom that you have learned from the life stories, that you could share to benefit others?
What got you into this buisness?

A:

Was there a moment where everyone collectively realized that something was wrong?

I was in a school shooting in 2012 and I remember hearing a loud noise and scream and for the first split second thinking it mustve been someone dropping something and scaring someone and then realizing that no something is super wrong.


Q:

Hello Dr. Kaku,

I don’t hear as much about String Theory as I used to. Are people giving up on it? Are we closer to developing experiments that could prove or further the research? What is the state of String Theory?

A:

Thanks Maureen, and I'll weigh in on this too! Even if you're preparing an obituary for a loved one (who is not famous), you can definitely talk to an obituary writer in advance to discuss what should be written and so on. I think most of us write better and more beautiful work when we have some time to think about it rather than having to write quickly when we receive the news of a death.

Since I write celebrity obituaries, I'm always learning more about fascinating lives as I research and write. One of the most interesting (to me, anyway) stories I've written pretty recently was for William Peter Blatty, author of "The Exorcist," who insisted all his life that his most famous book wasn't a horror story (http://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/notable-deaths/article/william-peter-blatty-1928-2017). I was also fascinated with the comedian "Professor" Irwin Corey. He died last year at 102, and he was long past his greatest fame, but one of the things he did in his older age was take free newspapers out of newspaper boxes, sell them on the street, and donate all the proceeds to a charity that helped children in Cuba. (http://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/notable-deaths/article/professor-irwin-corey-1914-2017)

My wisdom learned from this work is similar to Maureen's - do the things you want to do now, so you won't regret not doing them at the end of your life.

I've been working for Legacy.com for almost 18 years, and I was honestly just a writer who needed a job back in 2000. I found my way to Legacy via the employment ads. I never expected to write obituaries when I got my English degree, but it has become a calling for me.


Q:

As soon as we all heard about 7-12 loud shots outside of our classroom, we all looked at each other and DARTED toward corners.

A:

Any theory has its ebbs and flows. String theory is so advanced and sophisticated mathematically that we physicists are still trying to find its ultimate form. So string theory continued to dominate the agenda of physics conferences and physics publications, but there are no sensational results that can generate popular headlines. The problem is that the their is not in its final form, so its many, many solutions, each one a universe, giving us a multiverse of universes. Which one is our universe? String theory can predict our universes, but it also predicts parallel universes as well. But I personally feel that once string theory is in its final form, we will understand whether or not there is a multiverse of universes.


Q:

I have on occasion written obituaries for family members, usually in a collaborative effort with cousins, aunts, and uncles using a shared document. Assuming we're not going for humor or irreverence, as with the fantastic obituary for Terry Ward, is there a format or template you'd recommend for such (non-celeb) obituaries? What are the elements every obituary should include?

A:

“I was in one of the classrooms, and we all hit the floor as the gunfire started,’’ junior Sidney Fischer said. “Our class was skipped.”

But when he walked into the hall, he saw what no one wanted to see. Bodies were down on the floor. Blood, too. The smell of gunpowder in the air was still with him. Feis was responsive, alive, in a way that gave hope.

This is the only part of the article that concerns you from what I can tell. Did you give any in-person interviews to anyone? I've read through most of your comments. The two parts in actual quotes don't say much on their own and look to me like they're just random excerpts that fit in with the sentences the author was trying to create. I don't think you ever mentioned anything about blood, gunsmoke or bodies (plural) in the hallway. I don't remember you mentioning encountering Coach Feis at all. The sappy emotional part about him still being responsive thereby giving you hope is downright insulting if it's not true.


Q:

Dr Kaku,

If we make contact with alien civilizations, then what? And how will we talk to them?

A:

I would say the things you really can't miss including are:

*Full name, including maiden name if applicable and any nicknames by which they were widely known

*The details of their death (date, location, cause of death as you're comfortable talking about it)

*The details of their life (age, place(s) they lived, & occupation are most important IMO - can also include hobbies & interests, causes & charities they supported, schools they attended, favorite books/movies/music/athletic teams, etc.)

*Family relationships - definitely immediate family members & maybe some less immediate relatives, as you see fit & have space to include

*Information about any funeral or memorial services, burial, etc. If this information isn't available yet, provide some way readers can access it later (like the name of the funeral home you're working with, so they can contact the funeral director)

*Many obituaries (but not all) also include information on a memorial fund or charitable donations

I think the two most important things to remember are: 1. This should be a lasting way for you to remember the person, so think about what you know and love about them and include that, and 2: This is also one way people will get the information about the death, so make sure you've included enough basic information that an old friend would be able to know whose obituary they've found if they're searching for it online or browsing the newspaper.

As for a template, Legacy has just recently launched ObitWriter, which is a great place to start if you're not sure how to write an obituary for a loved one. It walks you through all the basic details so you won't forget any of the most important categories. Once you've entered the information it asks you for, it provides a basic obituary that you can submit to the newspaper as-is or customize further if you want. https://www.legacy.com/obitwriter/


Q:

I gave probably 5 interviews at the vigil, one of them was a 10 minute one with AP, another was like a 5 minute one with a german news station (?) and there was like 3 other small conversations I had with some reporters but they didn't have mics.. so maybe one of them twisted my words.

A:

Let me stick my neck out. I personally feel is that within this century, we will make contact with an alien civilization, by listening in on their radio communications. But talking to them will be difficult, since they could be tens of light years away. So, in the meantime, we must decipher their language to understand their level of technology. Are they Type I, II, or III??? And what are their intentions. Are they expansive and aggressive, or peaceful. Another possibility is that they land on the White House lawn and announce their existence. But I think that is unlikely, since we would be like forest animals to them, i.e. not worth communicating with.


Q:

How do you handle writing the obituary of a celebrity with a sorted past?

A:

What was going through your mind? Anything, nothing, praying, please not me? I can't imagine being in a horrible situation like this, and I have no idea what I would be thinking while it was going on.


Q:

Hi Michio Kaku, long time fan.

  1. Who are your favorite scientists today and why?

  2. What do you use to keep up to date with local, global, and technical news?

Thanks!

A:

I'm typically not going to make someone's bad (or iffy) deeds the focus of their obituary, but I also don't try to hide it or sweep it under the rug. If someone is best known for their work (e.g. a politician, entertainer, etc.) but also has some skeletons in the closet, the obituary I write will focus on their life and career while making a mention of their sordid past at some point. It's part of their life and my point isn't to ignore it, but if it's not the bulk of their story, it doesn't need to take up much of the space in their obituary. For someone who is known primarily for being a bad person (e.g. a serial killer), it's different - our obituary for Charles Manson, for example, didn't focus on his musical career or anything. We just noted what he had done and focused on his victims.


Q:

Well as you can see in the post, in this edited map, I was in the corner where the blue dot was. I was with my teacher Mrs. Schamis and about 10 other kids hiding behind and next to her desk. As soon as I got into my spot, I started to ask my teacher "Are we geniuinely going to die right now?" as soon as that last word came out of my mouth (now), the shots started ringing into our classroom. I had my head down and I was behind her desk so I couldn't see if the shooter had came into the class or not (he didn't), so I thought within seconds he would turn to me and shoot me, but thankfully he was only outside of the classroom shooting into it from the door window.

A:

My short list of the worlds greatest scientists are: 1) Isaac Newton, because he created calculus and found the laws of motion all by himself, without using the great achievements of his predecessors (which were extremely few) 2) Albert Einstein, who created Special and General Relativity all by himself, and was the God father of the quantum theory 3) Charles Darwin, because he found the basic principles which go era all living things. As far as living scientists go, of course Stephen Hawking has done path breaking research on black holes. As far as string theory is concerned, Ed Witten of Princeton has been a path breaker and pioneer. Today, its much easier to keep track of science because of great web sites dedicated to brining the best research to the public.


Q:

Good question. I couldn't write the obituaries for my parents. It was just too close to my heart and too painful, though I did write the eulogies that were delivered at their funeral service. But since I grew up in Chicago, and I write for the Chicago Sun-Times, there have been times when I have written obituaries for people I knew, either from being a longtime reporter, or sometimes from knowing them personally. I made sure my editors knew of a connection. I haven't written about an old flame, but I can think of at least one obit I wrote for someone who was in my class in high school and whom I considered a friend. What's that saying, "Tomorrow is promised to no one"? This obituary reminded me of that. Being a longtime local has helped me recognize names from Chicago history and news. Recently I saw a death notice for a Margot Schlesinger, and I realized I'd read about her in the past. She was one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors who lived because she was on "Schindler's List." It turned out to be a very interesting and uplifting obituary to write. Here it is.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/margot-schlesinger-dies-at-99-survived-holocaust-because-of-schindlers-list/

A:

What happened to you and your friends is awful 😔

Was anyone able to lock the door to the classroom? Or was it just happening to fast to really react?


Q:

After watching 2010: Space Odyssey; what WOULD happen to Earth if Jupiter became a second, tiny, sun?

A:

I did write my grandmother's obituary. We're not discouraged from writing about people we knew, although if any specific death of a friend or family member was too hard for me to write about, my editor would absolutely understand. For my grandma, it just felt right. I loved her and I wanted to make sure her obituary was done well.


Q:

The door was already locked. What's crazy to me is that earlier in the semester (approx. 1 month ago) my teacher (Mrs. Schamis) always kept the door unlocked, but recently in the past two weeks the administration started to crack down on teachers that kept their doors unlocked.

A:

Actually, Jupiter would have to be many times larger than it is in order to become a star. You have to reach what is called Lawson's Criterion in order to create a thermonuclear explosion capable of creating a star. But if we assume that Jupiter were more massive than it is, and attained Lawson's Criterion, then, depending on where it is locate and how big it would be, there is a change that it might (a) disturb the orbit of the earth around the sun (b) light up the sky with two stars, like in the movie Star Wars (c) raise the temperature of the earth and change our climate.


Q:

Hi Jane, Could be. It still seems like the classified death notices are pretty full, whereas other advertising has lessened in our industry over the years. But I haven't studied it.

A:

Did you know the perpetrator at all? What was the general opinion of him/was he in school days previous to this?


Q:

My question is do you think SpaceX will achieve the feat of getting humans to Mars by 2024 or you are skeptical about this timeframe?

A:

The thing about posting something native on social media is, those posts soon float away down your timeline til, before long, nobody's likely to see them anymore. Whereas when you publish an obit to a more permanent format - either through a newspaper or funeral home, or via an independent website - that's a permanent tribute you can visit again, or share anew to social media, whenever you're feeling moved to do so.


Q:

I didn't know him, but I remember seeing him around the halls freshman year. He was a very "different" individual. He would wear military boots, wear a hat and always kept his head low and was just all-around "janky", if thats a good word to describe him.

A:

I think Elon Musk has made a great contribution in creating a genuine moon rocket, the Falcon Heavy, and doing it with private funds, so now we have 2 (not one) moon rockets, the SLS and Falcon Heavy. That is what is important. Time tables, of course, come and go. So personally I think his time frame may be a bit optimistic, but that is not the point. The point is that he is making it possible to enter a new Golden Age of space exploration, almost free of charge to the tax payer.


Q:

Good point. Thanks.

A:

Strong kid. I hope you manage to cope well and get through the tough times ahead, and help the others too. Thanks for giving us your insight, it's very valuable and appreciated.

How is your teacher, Mrs. Schamis, holding up? To be in a position of responsibility during an event like this, I can't even imagine.

Thanks for doing this, and keep well.


Q:

How do you address critics in the skeptical community who have accused you of toeing too close to the line separating woo from legitimate science?

A:

At Legacy, we haven't been writing advance obituaries for very long - just a few years. So there are definitely some that I wrote right when we started doing it, maybe four years ago, for people who are still alive. Maureen might have a very different answer for this since she's at a newspaper - we'll see!


Q:

I saw her yesterday during the vigil. She was talking to two of my current teachers and some of my old teachers from freshman year, and as soon as she saw me she said "everyone, this child right here is a hero!" and I was astounded because I never thought that I could be looked at as a hero. I didn't save any lives, I didn't jump in front of a bullet; the only thing I did was try to calm and quiet people around me. That is no hero, that is just what you should do as someone in that situation.

A:

It used to be that research scientists who interacted with the public were criticized. Carl Sagan, in a very embarrassing episode, was actually denied entry into the National Academy of Science by scientists who declared that he was "a mere popularizer," not a real scientist. But times have changed for several reasons. First, the Supercollider, the $10 billion machine that was to be America's premier scientific laboratory, was cancelled because the public did not understand the machine. At that point, it was humiliating to know that scientists had no one who could tell the public what the SSC was all about. After that, scientists realized that they had to engage the public, or else the public would cut their budget to zero. Second, the rise of Stephen Hawking showed that it was possible to engage the public without dumbing down the science.


Q:

Yes it is! Once I telephoned a woman who'd been married to her husband for something like 65 years. My editor suggested it, saying that anyone who was married for that long had to have an interesting story. When I asked the widow to talk about her late husband, she grimly replied, "It was a long 65 years." So, I tried asking her another way, asking what kind of father he was. "It was a long 65 years," she repeated. I asked a few more questions and her answer didn't change. Needless to say, I didn't write his obituary!

A:

Are you friends with any of the people in critical condition in the hospital?


Q:

What are you thoughts on Deep Learning and recent AI trends? Any plans to write an updated version of "Future of The Mind" that would include all the success field of AI has achieved?

A:

I've written a few celeb obits for really controversial people, like Fidel Castro and Charles Manson. And I mean, what can you say about Manson? There's nothing positive to say. We try to keep obits for people like him pretty perfunctory and just-the-facts.

Sometimes there are also notable people who I personally dislike for whatever reason - maybe I didn't like their work or their politics, or they were known to be abusive or otherwise bad in their personal life. But they're admired by a lot of people for their work, and I'm not here to inject my opinion into my obituaries, so I just have to set aside my personal feelings and write the truth of their life, whatever it is. But if part of that truth is that they were known for some bad deeds in addition to a brilliant career, I'm not going to hide that stuff. Probably wouldn't call anybody a tosser, but I'll include the information that made them a tosser. :)


Q:

No, but my great friend Daniella was one of the victims. She got shrapnel in her leg and was in the opposite corner of me. She went to the hospital but is perfectly fine now, I told her how much I valued our friendship and we are meeting for lunch tomorrow!

A:

In The Future of the Mind, I wrote that, about 50 years ago, we scientists made a big mistake. We assumed that the brain was a digital computer. Big mistake, because the brain has no programming, no pentium chip, no CPU, no subroutines, etc. In fact, you can remove half the brain and it can still function, yet if you remove one tiny transistor a computer fails. Why? Because, as I wrote, the brain is a learning machine, some sort of neural network. Your laptop today is just as stupid as it was yesterday. But I wrote in my book that eventually scientists will begin to explore learning machines. Guess what. A few years later, now Deep Learning is all the rage. But it is, in some sense, 50 years late. This should have happened 50 years ago.


Q:

What do you do when someone lived a boring life or was crummy to everyone and you have to write about them anyway?

A:

What is the school doing to help you and other students struggling with this event? I'm assuming you have days off, but are there counselors and resources for you?


Q:

Hi Michio, if I were to travel to the boundary of our universe right now, what do you think will be there? Is it possible to "fall off" this universe the same way we fall out of our bed? Thanks in advance!

A:

You know, I think there's something interesting & worth writing about in every life. Whether you're an international superstar full of amazing stories or someone who's lived a very quiet & simple life, there's something to say about that life. Sometimes it takes a little more work to uncover that really interesting thing, but that's what we do, we dig into someone's life and figure out how to express the nutshell of their legacy.


Q:

Yes, yesterday the whole day they had counselors at the local park in the auditorium inside. I believe they are still there today, I haven't went yet but I am going to go later this weekend once I'm done seeing all the people that want to see me. At this same park, there was a vigil that was streamed live to the world yesterday that I was at. During the main event, I was standing with 4 of my classmates who were there with me in the classroom as it was happening.

A:

No one nows. But one possibility is that the universe is a bubble of some sort. We live on the skin of the bubble. If you travel in one direction far enough, you come back to where you started. So the farthest object is the back of your head. In this way, this bubble universe is infinite in two dimensions, since you never hit the end, but finite in three dimensions, since its just a bubble. Likewise, our universe might be infinite in 3D, without boundaries, but finite in 4D, because it is a hypersphere. Sadly, our data is not developed enough to determine if our universe is finite or infinite. But the leading theories (e.g. inflation) seem to indicate that the universe is infinite. But in inflation, our bubble universe can have big bangs all the time, so baby universes can peel off our universe. In other words, we live in a bubble bath of universes, the multiverse.


Q:

Hi Sid. Thanks so much for sharing this.

This is a throwaway but I knew beigel and wondered if you could tell me more about what happened ? I believe he was locking a door when he was murdered. It doesn’t surprise me if it’s true that he was trying to save others. He was a hero.

I worked with him for 3 years at camp starlight where he is a complete legend. Maybe the funniest guy I have ever met. I remember at the end of camp when all the counsellors got a small gift from their adl. Beigel bought us all a fucking key ring with his own face on. The man was a genius haha.

God bless Scott. You’ll be so sorely missed my so many.

A:

Hi Dr Kaku how long do you think it took for humans to terraform planet like Mars? Are there any physical constraints regarding this? Thanks.


Q:

I don't know much about what happened to him but I believe I heard he was on the third floor.

A:

Terraforming, in my book The Future of Humanity, will proceed in slow steps. 1. using lava tubes to form underground bases to protect against radiation 2. mining ice to get drinking water, and oxygen for breathing, and hydrogen for rocket field. 3. using genetically modified plans to thrive on Mars 4. using methane to create a green house effect 5. using solar mirrors to beam sunlight down to the ice caps to melt them.


Q:

Could you describe your reunion with your family?

A:

Hello Dr. Kaku. I'm a fan of your work and have two questions for you.

  1. What design of spacecraft do you think is the best for long-term space flight?

  2. How do we balance the need to pursue long-term goals and projects for humanity while also dealing current societal problems that people face?


Q:

Well considering my phone was on my desk still (it still is right now), I couldn't get to my parents or anyone I knew immediately while it was actually happening, but once the police escorted our room out of the building I found my friend RJ, who was in the FIRST room he shot into. RJ gave me his phone and I called my Mom first, she didn't answer because it was a Massachusetts number. I called my brother and he answered quickly and I broke down as soon as I heard him say "hello?", I explained to him that a school shooting just happened and I told him that I'm ok. He said he was going to come pick me up immediately but I told him to tell my mom, which he did. She eventually came to pick me up a mile down the road at the local park (where the vigil took place yesterday). We drove over to the local Wawa where my dad and brother were waiting for me, and I broke down into tears immediately.

A:

For sunlight speed rockets, I think a. fusion rockets b. antimatter rockets c. ramjet fusion rockets hold the most promise within 100 years. The ramjet, for example, is like an ice-cream cone that scoops hydrogen in space and then fuses it, so that it can run forever without any refueling. For greater than light speed, the details are much less clear, but it might be possible to warp space in 2 ways. One way is via a wormhole that can rip the fabric of space time, which were first introduced by Einstein himself in 1935 with his student Nathan Rosen (so these are called Einstein Rosen Bridges) and also the Alcubierre drive, which compresses the space in front of you, so you hop across vast distances. Also, I think the urgent questions on the earth (e.g. global warming, nuclear weapons) have to be addressed first. No rush in reaching for the stars.


Q:

Was your classroom door already locked when the shooting started or did someone lock it upon hearing shots? What did the teacher in the room do and did they have time/ or attempt to give to any instructions to you and your classmates?

A:

1 - Telepathy? 2 - Uploading minds to computers?


Q:

To be honest with you, I was next to my teacher as soon as we got to our corner. She was bewildered, she didn't know what was going on. Me and her were actively trying to make sure people next to us in that corner were doing ok and were safe, we couldn't necessarily get up and go help people in the other corner if you get what I mean.

A:

A simple form of telepathy is possible today. In The Future of the Mind, I write that (in epileptics, for example) one can put a patch of sensors directly on the surface of the brain, connect it to a computer, and have software decipher the messages. Then it is possible for this person to type and communicate mentally. In fact, my colleague, Stephen Hawking, using this. He has lost control over his fingers and vocal cords. So in this glasses ,there is a chip which picks up radio signals from this brain, and feeds this into a computer, which then deciphers the message and types out what he is thinking. (This is, however, a very slow process). Also, it is now possible to upload and record memories in mice. Also primates. Next: Alzheimers patients. So they will wear a brain pacemaker that reminds them who they are and where they live.


Q:

Hey Sid, I went to JPT (class of 2010) and had lots of friends at Douglas. This whole thing is so surreal being how nice and family oriented our town is. Sending you a big hug. You might not get to this Q because you have so many but I always thought those slits of windows in the doors were super thick with metal wiring to reinforce them so did he literally just shoot that out then stick the gun through the hole or how did he actually manage to shoot into the room? Sorry for your losses and pain, you're not alone.

A:

As we're developing smarter and more effective machine learning algorithms, it seems inevitable that AI will start to replace human intelligence for more precision and efficiency. Professor Michio Kaku, my question to you is will Artifical Intelligence eventually render human labor and intelligence obsolete? If so, in what areas can humans excel at that machine learning algorithms can not?


Q:

I don't know exactly I had my head down behind a desk. But, what I can tell you is that he most likely shot the window out then started shooting in the direction of the corner where Nick and Helena were.. I don't remember him even trying to open the door.

A:

Right now, robots have the intelligence of a bug. They can barely walk across a room. Simple tasks done by humans (picking up garbage, fixing a toilet, building a house, solving a crime) are way beyond what a robot can do. But, as the decades go by, they will become as smart as a mouse, then rat, then a cat, dog, and monkey. By that point ,they might become dangerous and even replace humans, near the end of the century. So I think we should a chip in their brain to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts. But what happens centuries from now, when robots and evade even our most sophisticated fail safe system?? At that point, I think we should merge with them. This may sound strange to some people, but remember that it is the people of the far future (not us) who will decide how far they want to modify themselves to deal with supersmart robots


Q:

I’m so terribly sorry this happened to you and your friends. Is there anything you want to say about Nick or Helena that people should know?

A:

Do you think EVERYTHING that exists could be explained through mathematics and physics?


Q:

I never really talked to Helena and didn't know much about her. But I spent the whole school year with her so far and I can tell you that she would always be smiling while talking to her friends and she was a very positive person.

Nick (NICHOLAS DWORET, not the ruthless murderer who's full name I don't even want to say) was not necessarily a friend of mine, but I have had MANY conversations with him over the course of this school year. In particular, I remember our first conversation earlier in the year we were talking about what concerts we had went to during the summer. I told him I went to the Playboi Carti concert and the XXXTentacion concert, and he told me he went to the Lil Pump concert. He also told me stories about how he got caught doing bad things with his friends and how when Junior year started (he's a senior at this point) he made a resolution to focus on his schoolwork and make sure he stayed obedient to his parents because his swimming career was thriving at that point. Nick was one of the most pure individuals I have ever met, he always had a smile on his face. I remember specifically a few weeks ago he announced to the class that he committed to University of Indianapolis for swimming and everyone was applauding him and he did one of this gestures where you lower your head and scratch your head because you are embarrassed but happy (if you get what im saying). Every time I scroll down my instagram feed and see his face, I break down and its just all around rough to think about his family and his girlfriend and anyone else who was closer to him than I was.

A:

There are things which science and math may have difficulty explaining. As Galileo once said, the purpose of science is to determine how the heavens go. The purpose of religion is to determine how to go to heaven, i.e. the purpose of science is to explain natural law, while the purpose of religion is ethics, to determine what is right and wrong, to be nice to each other, how to behave, etc. So science by itself cannot dictate what is absolutely right or wrong. There is no law of physics that tells us what is proper behavior and what is right or wrong. It all depends on the society you are talking about.


Q:

It's refreshing to hear honest thoughts from a highschooler about people who passed away.

When people are my high school were involved in a tragedy everyone pretended like they were best friends with that person, even if they never spoke to them.

A:

Dr. You study string theory. For someone who is scientific illiterate can you explain this study?


Q:

pretended like they were best friends with that person, even if they never spoke to them.

There is no one-upping in situations like this. At the vigil, I saw Joaquin Oliver's (he was one of the casualties, everyone called him Guac) girlfriend and bestfriend. They were in absolute pieces, like you could literally see the life sucked out of their faces. I broke down like 30 feet away from them just seeing them. Guac had literally just been switched into my Algebra class a week ago and I can't believe that when I go back to school, his seat will be empty and life will just go on.

A:

Briefly, each sub atomic particle we see (and there are hundreds of them) are nothing but tiny vibrations of a string, a rubble band. So each particle is just a musical note. That explains why we have so many particles. Then physics is the laws of harmony of these strings. Chemistry is the melodies we can play on these strings. The universe is a symphony of strings. And the Mind of God, that Einstein searched for for the last 30 years of his life, is Cosmic Music resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace.


Q:

what was the last thought you had before the shooting and the first thought when the shooting happened?

A:

Hi Doc! do you believe there is a God?


Q:

My first thought before the shooting was: Nice I'm about to finish this activity and put my computer away, lit.

My first thought when the shooting happened: Am I about to die? Is this real?

A:

Einstein has asked this question. He replied there are two kinds of Gods. The first is the personal God (that answers prayers and smites the Philistines). He did not believe in that God. But he did believe in the Old One, i.e. the God of Spinoza, the God of beauty, harmony, and order . The universe could have been ugly, random, lifeless, but its not. So he believed in the God of order.

Sorry for the two answers...just getting the hang of it.


Q:

Sid, Firstly I am glad you're OK, and I am sorry for what you had to experience. What was the tone of the situation like when you heard the first couple of shots? Were people trying to convince themselves it was a firework or a car back fire? Or did you know immediately it was gun fire and how did the students in your classroom react? Thanks!

A:

Dr. Kaku, may I expand on that question:

  • Which relatively "godlike" beings/civilizations would you deem possible? (e.g. "we're in a simulation", "super-aliens watching us" [& fermi-paradox], "beings of higher dimensions", type 3++ civilizations, classical religion [our existence is a divine test], etc.)

  • If we eventually (want to?) make contact, could they have "higher" ethics or will universal "Good vs Evil" continue?


Q:

Well no one even hesitated at all, we all got up and ran to a corner, but a few of us were muttering "Is this one of those school shooter drills?" A few seconds after that, the shots started going off into our room and I saw dust flying around the room and knew that this was serious. About a minute after the shooting stopped in our room, I look over to my right and in the opposite corner, a girl named Samantha had blood all over her face and her eye was swolen (I believe a bullet grazed her face), but she is luckily ok. I couldn't see Nick or Helena's body because a cabinet was in the way. All I can tell you is that I remember the first 10 or so shots going off right outside of our door and the memory of the sound hasn't faded whatsoever.

A:

I get asked if the aliens are evil and want to destroy us. Maybe, but I think in the main they will be peaceful because they have had thousands of years to resolve sectarian, fundamentalist, nationalist questions. However, they still might be dangerous if they simply don't care about us and we get in the way. In War of the Worlds, the aliens did not hate us. We were simply in the way. In the same way that a developer is a threat to forest animals because he can pave the first, the danger there is from someone who sees that we are just in the way. But for the most part, I think they will be peaceful, but view us like we view forest animals.


Q:

[removed]

A:

How do you respond to criticism that your comments are sometimes over reaching?

What impact do you feel that has on science communication?


Q:

She's an absolutely awesome teacher. I love the detail she goes into about every subject that comes up in class. I remember when we switched into her class this semester (we had a different teacher for Holocaust History last semester), I thought she talked too much the first day but I've gotten used to it. Now that this has happened, I want to hear her blabber all day until my head explodes.

A:

I am a futurist, in that I have interviewed over 300 of the worlds top scientists (many Nobel Laureates) who are inventing the future in their labs. So my predictions are based on the latest scientific research. But some people come up to me and ask "where is my flying car?" But the prediction of a flying did not come from a scientist. It came from a cartoon show. Unfortunately, most people's understanding of the future comes from cartoon shows and science fiction movies, which have no obligation to be scientifically correct. So I personally feel that we need more scientists to engage the public concerning future technologies which will affect their lives in the future (e.g. AI, biotech, nanotech).


Q:

From reading some of your comments, you seemed to be so poised and collected in the situation. Would you consider yourself to have always been that way, or do you think the situation brought something new out of you? Glad you're okay!

A:

I always thought about situations like this and how I would act. I always thought that I would freak out, but surprisingly, I was very calm but shaken while it was going on. I tried my absolute hardest to make sure everyone surrounding me was ok and made sure they stayed quiet so we could have a better chance of surviving, and made sure the girl next to me (Kelly) was saying the right things to 911 as she was talking to an operator. She was crying HYSTERICALLY and couldn't even get words out of her mouth so I was calming her down and telling her what to tell the operator because her thought process must have been in thousands of pieces just by the look of her face.


Q:

People react differently in high-stress situations. My friend and I were in a scary car accident. I immediately went into "emergency mode" (check if everyone's ok, call 911, answer questions), but my friend was crying hysterically. Staying collected under pressure is a valuable trait. Ever considered a career that needs people like that, such as an EMT, surgeon, or public relations specialist?

A:

I haven't necessarily ever wanted to BE one of those, but I have always pondered on what they do and how they go about their jobs, it's interesting to me. I actually aspire to be a producer for hip-hop music if that answers your question, I'm an active commenter on /r/hiphopheads, great sub for anyone interested in hip hop btw!


Q:

Hey Sid, I'm in electronic & independent music but friends with a lot of producers. If you wanna join our Discord or chat and come talk about producing and engineering or get feedback on stuff you've made, send me a DM. Hope you're doing well, bud. <3

A:

I will definitely hit you up soon man, right now is not the time though! Thank you so much this is awesome.


Q:

What do think about the people putting the shooting on Snapchat, Instagram, etc?

A:

Well what I can tell you is that one of the viral videos that is circulating the world right now, is a video by my classmate Matt Walker. This is the video (WARNING, no blood but very horrifying sounds go on during this video), I was 4 feet to the left of him as he was taking this, I was hiding behind my teachers desk. People have asked me what I think about him taking the video during a time like that, but to be honest, there really is no dissecting what was going through his head in that moment. Some people take in situations like that differently, and react differently, and that's perfectly normal. I wish he hadn't taken that video and focused on his safety first, but what can you do.

For anyone asking if Matt is ok, yes he is. He's also in my Algebra class and he was also in my English class last year.


Q:

Do you know if the girl who was hysterically crying in the video is okay?

A:

Well I don't know who exactly that is, but if it is one of the girls in the corner where Nick and Helena died, then it means they had dead people in their lap. There was about 12 kids in that same corner all packed in and they had to sit in that corner with 2 dead individuals and 4 injured individuals for a total of around 30-40 minutes.


Q:

I read that he pulled the fire alarm to shoot in the hallways, but your map suggests he shot into rooms, not the hallways. Did he start shooting before he pulled the alarm?

A:

your map suggests he shot into rooms, not the hallways. Did he start shooting before he pulled the alarm?

Yes, the fire alarm did go off. But, despite beliefs, the fire alarm went off about 10-15 seconds AFTER he started shooting, I remember clearly. Everyone in the Freshman Building (the building my room was in, its a 3 story building with mainly freshman based classes) knew that there was a shooter outside so no one left their rooms.

People across the school couldn't tell however, so they were treating it like a regular fire drill until word got around within a minute and everyone rushed back into their classrooms.


Q:

**Deleting my comments and throwaway account now for privacy. Just needed to express my condolences to OP and relay my advice on coping with the grief. Also, don't want to detract too much from the OP's AMA or prevent him from sharing his experiences.

TLDR; I was there. Glad you're safe. Talk about it. We're always here for you.

A:

Sir, I REMEMBER YOU. I'm fucking crying right now I can't believe that you have seen this. You are a hero sir, I am SO thankful for your service. I was in a white/light gray sweatshirt if that helps you remember which individual I was. Man... this is crazy.

I am a Parkland resident, I moved here right before freshman year. I used to live in Boca Raton for 14 years of my life.


Q:

Heartbreaking story. Hope everything turns out well for you and your classmates. Just curious about the AMA. Did someone reach out to you to do an AMA or did you reach out to them?

A:

I chose to do the AMA, thought I'd just share my story considering a lot of people don't get to see/hear personal accounts of people that were actually in the shooting on the news; but rather see shots of our school from a helicopter up in the sky.


Q:

Hi Sid, very sorry about this tragic ordeal. I don't understand, if the boy that did the shooting wasn't a student why was he allowed on the property at all? I may have misinterpreted this, but I saw on the news he wasn't allowed there with a backpack, but why would he be allowed there at all?

A:

Well there's a gate in the fence to our senior parking lot near the bike rack that they open up in the morning and the last 30 minutes before school ends. The gate is about 150-200 feet away from one of the entrances of the freshman building. I believe he got dropped off by an Uber and just walked right in and went straight into the freshman building from there. What's crazy to me is that the same gate that he came in from, is the same gate I was running out of once I got escorted by police out of the freshman building.


Q:

My wife and I have been alternating between learning more about the shooting and having to avoid coverage because of conspiracy nonsense about false flags and crisis response actors.

I teach high school on the West Coast. What were active shooter drills like at your school?

Thank you for doing the AMA.

A:

We have never had an active shooter drill at our school, we have just went over what to do if a shooter was there (hide in corners not visible by the door, hide behind solid objects, go into closet).


Q:

I am so sorry that you went through this and were firsthand witness to such senseless violence and tragedy. As I’m sure you’ve been told a thousand times, my thoughts, my family’s thoughts, and those of our nation are with you. Please let us know if there is a way someone in the Midwest can help your community starting right now.

Now on to my question:

How did first responders on the scene handle the throng of innocent victims in the immediate aftermath? I read that the shooter tried to “blend in” with kids in an attempt to escape. Did the police seem to know quickly who was and was not a threat?

A:

Well after we stopped hearing shots, we all stayed as quiet as we could and I was trying my hardest to stay contained and made sure people around me in the corner that I was in were safe. I can't tell how long it was waiting for police to come, but we started hearing yelling outside of the room and down the hall and we heard "police! police!", after a minute of everyone rejoicing, they finally got to our door and said "police! is anyone in there?!" in which everyone responded "yes! help us!". They then said "is anyone injured, how many of you are in there?!", before anyone could say anything I screamed "4 injured, there are about 25 of us in here, please help!". They said "we are coming in! hands up!" When they came in they got the injured out of the room immediately.

After the injured got out of the room, they made us get up and walk out in a single file line, and when I was out of the room I had to walk over a dead body right outside of the door just to get across the hall.

I heard that the shooter went out toward the middle school next to us and tried to blend in with people running away from the school and went to the walmart down the street, but I don't know a lot about exactly what he did after. What I can tell you is that it took about an hour or two after the shooting to find out who he was.


Q:

I went to elementary with one of the girls that was injured during the shooting. Do you know *******? Is she holding up well? I never had a strong friendship with her and it’s likely she does not remember me but personally I would like to know if you know her and if she’s holding up ok.

Edited to remove her name since he replied.

A:

Yes! I'm going to lunch with her tomorrow, she was in my class she is ok. I've been becoming very great friends with her in the past month or so. She's in my Holocaust History class (current discussion) and my Chemistry class, probably one of the nicest individuals I ever met in my life. This is absolutely crazy how ironic some of these questions are getting, the internet is nuts (in a good way).


Q:

Why did you decide to do this AMA? Will it help you process?

edit: you

A:

Well considering I'm home alone right now with no phone (It's still on my desk in the classroom), I thought I'd pass time by sharing my story with the people of Reddit as this is a website that is pretty much a home to me as I'm on it almost half of the day, everyday.


Q:

I saw a few interviews of your classmates claiming multiple shooters. Did you see or hear anything to make you think there could of been a second shooter?

A:

Actually yes, I do remember hearing some sort of "spraying" like a machine gun down the hall but it sounded very faint. But my memory of that has somewhat faded, it's very possible it was a separate sound that had nothing to do with the shooting.


Q:

What are your thoughts on the memes that circulate that make light of school shootings? How have your views on them changed since?

A:

Well so far I have heard (not seen) that someone made a meme related to Fortnite (the popular game) where they showed one of the dead bodies with loot on top of it like you would see when you kill someone in the game.. When my friend told me this I just broke down, I couldn't believe that someone would be so heartless and immature to even go through the time of making a meme like that.