Wherein "impossible" sometimes only means "very difficult"!
Jan 31, 2010
What do Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Lawrence Krauss, Clifford Pickover, Brian Greene, Douglas Hofstadter and Michio Kaku have in common? Aside from being respected physicists, scientists, mathematicians and theoreticians, they also have the uncanny ability to write at a level that we mere mortals can understand. Happily this allows our workaday world of common non-scientists to participate in at least a rudimentary understanding of the esoteric mysteries of the universe that are fascinating in the extreme and so bizarre as to outstrip the most obtuse imaginings of fiction writers.
Michio Kaku takes us on a grand tour of the modern world of physics by grouping topics that either were or are still considered impossible into three large classes - first, those items that don't appear to violate the currently known laws of science and having been considered as impossibilities in times past are either now realities or are verging on reality as technology and experimentation makes progress with such blinding speed; second, items that also don't appear to break the rules as we know them but await the development of technology that is likely centuries or millennia beyond whatever skills we might even envisage at this point in history; and, finally, those things that our current knowledge of scientific law would suggest are genuinely impossible.
Kaku treats the eager science loving reader with a generous and formidable list of topics - force fields, telekinesis and ESP, faster-than-light travel, time travel, parallel universes, perpetual motion, telepathy, phaser weaponry, precognition, antimatter, negative matter, hyperspace travel, extraterrestrials and much more. His writing style is at once down to earth, scientifically correct without being either esoteric or condescending, and even witty and humorous as he regales us with amusing tales of the correspondence between science and the astonishingly prescient writers of the science fiction genre. As you might well imagine, the brilliant writers and creators of the Star Trek series come up in Kaku's discussion on more than one occasion.
Brilliant, informative and entertaining! Highly recommended. But Class III impossibilities being forever impossible? If I learned anything from this book, I don't think I'll ever say "never" again. Who knows? Stay tuned!
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About the reviewer
Paul Weiss (cpw1952)
A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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