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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific…

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of… (2008)

by Michio Kaku

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Accessible and fascinating! I loved the quotes and examples used throughout the book! The ideas are beautifully presented, clear and tangible despite the profound subject nature! As a bit of a nerd, I loved the references throughout, yet appreciated that they never distracted from nor overwhelmed the themes. ( )
  LaPhenix | Jan 8, 2014 |
This wasn't really helpful , until I got to the two or three pages near the end that laid out several things I'd been wondering about for maybe ten years ( and hadn't been able to find out or stumble over any place else ! ) ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Interesting concept, covering some of the same ground as "The Physics of Star Trek" but going a lot deeper into contemporary physics. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Physicist Michio Kaku looks at various ideas and technologies that are staples of science fiction, but are not -- or are not yet -- possible in the real world, from force fields to sentient robots to time travel. He divides these "impossible" things into three categories. Most of the concepts he talks about are "Class I Impossibilities": they're not quite possible with current technology, but there's no reason why they might not be achievable in the future, and we already have at least some vague idea of how that might happen. Laser pistols are a good example of this; the main reason cops aren't carrying ray guns is that they require way too much power. "Class II Impossibilities" are things that aren't necessarily ruled out by the laws of physics, but involve technology and an understanding of the universe so far in advance of our own that it's hard to even imagine. This category includes faster-than-light travel via wormholes. "Class III impossibilities" are things that really do seem to be completely and eternally impossible according to our current understanding of the most basic laws of the universe. Perpetual motion machines are the big example here.

For each "impossibility," of whichever class, Kaku describes a few examples from science fiction TV shows, books, or movies; explains some of the science involved; tells us why it's not possible right now; and discusses what would be necessary to make it possible in the future. This is definitely written for the layman, and he walks a pretty fine line between treating the physics too superficially and getting too technical about the experiments and calculations that provide the basis of our scientific knowledge. For the most part, I think he walks that line fairly well. Some readers will probably start feeling a little confused when the book gets into the more abstruse areas of quantum mechanics, but I think that's just about inevitable. Even when you understand the mathematics behind that stuff, it's still hard to make sense of.

I don't think Michio Kaku is quite as lively and engaging a writer as, say, Laurence Krauss (who wrote The Physics of Star Trek, among other things), but his writing is readable enough, and this book will probably be of at least some interest to science fiction fans, especially ones who've often found themselves wondering, "Could you really do that?" ( )
1 vote bragan | Jul 6, 2012 |
Physics of the impossible explores common themes in science fiction, and explains in simplified physics whether such things are possible soon, or far in the future. Kaku has an engaging writing style, and his physics is basic enough that most popular readers would be able to follow. However, I don’t think people who follow physics regularly would enjoy the simplified science. I enjoyed this book, though I have one major complaint: Kaku would give examples of science fiction phenomena from popular novels. Apparently assuming that everyone has read all of these books, he almost always tells the ending of the book. I hadn’t read several of these books and was quite annoyed since telling the end of the book did not add any merit to his own arguments. The book lost star-points because of this problem. ( )
  The_Hibernator | Feb 13, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307278824, Paperback)

Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe's physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:06 -0400)

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A fascinating exploration of the science of the impossible--from death rays and force fields to invisibility cloaks--revealing to what extent such technologies might be achievable decades or millennia into the future.

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