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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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1,759375,886 (3.84)51
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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
The author reviews a number of "impossible" science fiction subjects that may, or may not be possible in the future - this century or beyond. Some of the discussion gets to be a bit esoteric and leaves one feeling like they are hanging out on a very flimsy limb of logic. ( )
  addunn3 | Nov 13, 2018 |
Great introduction to physics through the lense of science fiction. Kaku writes effortlessly and in a very approachable way about difficult concepts. My physics background is next to non-existant, yet I had no problem following. I would give five stars if not for the occasional too little explanation - and the complete lack of pictures or figures. This book is one where pictures could be worth a thousands of words. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Wonderful book, simplifying the physics of why some things can never be, and how some other might possibly be in the distand future. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
How often do you wonder about The Future? Can you conceive of the technologies people are going to use in the next millennium? Or is it at all conceivable? Is the ever growing ‘Technology Monster’ finally going to define or explain ‘every’ phenomenon around us some time in the far future? What about super intelligent extraterrestrials? Do they really exist? Are they going to invade us like the Hollywood ones? Can humans use psychokinesis in their regular lives as Jean Grey does in the X-Men comic books? Is a speed faster than light ever be attainable? Can we travel through time and alter the course of history? Is it at all possible to unveil what’s going on in the other universes (considering the idea they really do exist)? Are robots going to be so intelligent that someday ‘Terminator’ becomes a reality? Are these all going to happen or they are just fancy theories written on paper only, practically being impossible? If possible, then how long we have to wait? Few centuries? Millennium? Or may be Millions of years? Well, the answers my friend, are NOT blowing in the wind! Trillions, may be quadrillions, may be even larger number of phenomena are still left to be explained. With each discovery, more questions are popping up. We’re completely in the darkness about the technology of nature and the night is yet too young! The use of science since the last couple of centuries has taken us to a somewhat considerable point. But how many miles must we walk to meet these (at least some of these) ‘impossibilities’, is a matter of great debate. You have to know precisely where our science course is set to and where we are standing now for making such ‘predictions’. Michio Kaku, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York, tries to answer these questions from a physicist’s point of view and draws a possible outline when should these impossibilities turn into ‘almost’ everyday regularities. Being a human, if the rapid progression of science makes you wonder about what are the technologies individuals of your species are going to enjoy in the far, far future, this book is for you!

The organization of the book is excellent. Kaku divides the book into three parts according to the classes of the impossibilities (Class I, Class II and Class III). These impossibilities are, of course, impossible with respect to our current time frame. The Class I impossibilities (invisibility, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots etc.) are the technologies that are not feasible today but they obey the laws of physics. They might be possible in this century, or perhaps the next. Class II impossibilities (faster than light, time travel and parallel universes) are the ones that “sit at the very edge of our understanding of the physical world.” They may be understood on a scale of millennia to millions of years. The final category is the Class III impossibilities (perpetual motion machines and precognition) which violate the laws of physics. “If they turn out to be possible, they would represent a fundamental shift in our understanding of physics”-Kaku’s remark on the Class III ones. Starting from 1960’s Star Trek to modern days’ Eternal Sunshine on The Spotless Mind, the book refers to various TV serials, movies and sci-fi/ fantasy books. Apparently, the movie directors and the storywriters from the old days were far more’ visionary’ than scientists for they pictured the impossible happenings decades earlier while scientists have started taking these into account only in the recent days (human brain’s Imaginative part prevails maybe?!) From pop culture items to pure scientific field, the book declares quite a large realm of itself and these references made the read a very enjoying one. Kaku’s explanations raised some ‘philosophical’ thoughts in my mind as well. For thousands of years people have been dreaming of teleportation, psychokinesis, precognition, telepathy or extraterrestrials. These have been the cores of the fairy tales. If these impossibilities are made possible someday, will it draw a conclusion to the fairy tales? In these days you certainly won’t like to hear a fairy tale about a prince who uses an hp laptop with internet connection, as they are too trivial today! There’s absolutely no fun hearing this story. In the far future, when precognition is achieved, would children want to read the stories about precognition? Who knows?

On a different note, I think this book could be a great influence for aspiring sci-fi writers. A writer with enough imagination can take lots of information and ideas from this book.
Keeping all the nice words aside, let’s point out that the book has some lacking as well! A popular science book without a single diagram is something I find ‘odd’. Any scientific paper, book, dissertation or thesis needs lots and lots of diagrams for making the ideas clear which this book didn’t address. When Kaku talked about quantum mechanics or matter-antimatter annihilation, the lack of figures really made me stumble on the letters. For making the book a little vague for me sometimes, I am ‘penalizing’ Kaku 1 star, and this is the explanation of a 4 star out of 5.

‘Prediction’ is always a tricky business and often improvident too! One prediction goes wrong and people will start hurling stones. Running the risk of ‘being proven wrong’, Michio Kaku did a splendid job. Things that he understands easily being a physicist are not very digestible for regular people and Kaku's attempt to make it digestible is appreciable. Surely Kaku deserves an applaud.

P.S: Before starting each chapter, Kaku mentions one or two quotations by famous people from different walks of life. I couldn’t resist the temptation to pick some of them and re-mention them here in this review! (The last two ones are mentioned as a mean of sarcasm!)

“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it”-Albert Einstein .

“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”- John Wheeler

“Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Either thought is frightening” –Arthur C. Clarke

“Radio has no future. Heavier-than- air flying machines are impossible. X-ray will prove to be a hoax”-Physicist Lord Kelvin, 1890

“The (atomic) bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives”- Admiral William Leahy
( )
  Shaker07 | May 18, 2017 |
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 ! ) ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
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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)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.

» see all 5 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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