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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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"… it is always dangerous to declare that something is absolutely impossible in the physical sciences." (pg. 285)

A fantastically engrossing book in which renowned physicist Michio Kaku explains how outlandish science-fiction mainstays like time travel, phasers, interstellar travel, invisibility and teleportation may actually be scientifically possible. Even more remarkably, he argues that many of these things may not only be possible but probable. He splits the various ideas into three classes: Class I, which are impossible today but could be possible within the next century or so; Class II, which are possible according to our understanding of physics but will only be realised in the distant future; and Class III, which are ones that violate the known laws of physics. It says a lot that most of the ideas – even some surprising ones – end up in the first class.

It is a book that really brings home just how fascinating science is and the exciting boundaries present and future physicists are and will be pushing. Kaku's writing is occasionally clunky, but he explains the core concepts well. There is an enthusiasm for the wonders of science present in these pages that seems to seep through the pages into the skin of the reader. Similar to other popular science books like Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, your brain becomes giddy as it contemplates such highly stimulating ideas.

But this is not just geeking out and fantasising about one day owning your own lightsaber. It makes you realise not only how remarkable the future may be, but how remarkable the present is. Not only can we theorise about these outlandish concepts but there are significant efforts underway to one day make them a reality. We already live in a remarkable age; think of the complexity of the various technologies we use in our day-to-day lives. On page 11, Kaku talks about 'maglev' trains which are already becoming operational in our time: trains that use magnets to levitate above the tracks. These are things which are coming to bear in our lifetimes, and think about how much more may just be around the corner. Think about a hypothetical book from fifty or one hundred years ago which speculates about the internet and personal computers and mobile phones and so on, and how such things must have seemed like science fiction to people of that time. Quite aside from any of its particular qualities – and there are many – books like Physics of the Impossible are incredibly life-affirming to those willing to engage with them, because they make you dream and make you realise that wild dreams for the future can come true.
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
This was a very interesting book but it was long and tedious. I did appreciate that most of the science was easy to grasp but since this book dealt mostly with science fiction and impossibilities, most of what was said was speculation. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Not as exciting as Kaku's previous books but summarizes well the physics behind the most popular SF topics (time travel, faster than light travel, teleportation, force fields, etc.). ( )
  TheCrow2 | Jun 21, 2014 |
...and another half star. The format felt repetitious, the tone a bit condescending, and it covered too much so was not able to really explain things. There are plenty of better books around, I struggled to finish this one. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
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 |
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To my loving wife, Shizue, and to Michelle and Alyson
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One day, would it be possible to walk through walls?  [Preface]
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:52 -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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