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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel Hardcover – 11 Mar 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1 edition (11 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520690
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.2 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,028,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR "PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE"
"Science and science fiction buffs can easily follow Kaku's explanations as he shows that in the wonderful worlds of science, impossible things are happening every day." --"Publishers Weekly"
"A fascinating exploration of the interface between science and science fiction, extremely well researched, lively, and tremendously entertaining. - Fritjof Capra, author of "The Tao of Physics" and "The Science of Leonardo"

CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR "PARALLEL WORLDS"
"A wonderful tour, with an expert guide, of a cosmos whose comprehension forces us to stretch to the very limits of imagination." --Brian Greene, author of "The Fabric of the Cosmos"
"A highly readable and exhilarating romp through the frontiers of cosmology."
--Martin Rees, author of "Our Cosmic Habitat" and "Our Final Century"
"A roller-coaster ride through the universe--and beyond--by one of the world's finest science writers." --Paul Davies, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of "How to Build a Time Machine
"
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR "HYPERSPACE"
"One of the best popular accounts of higher physics." --Jim Holt, "Wall Street Journal"
"Among the best of the genre to appear in recent years . . . What a wonderful adventure it is." --"New York Times Book Review"
"Mesmerizing . . . the reader exits dizzy, elated, and looking at the world in a literally revolutionary way." --"Washington Post Book World"

PRAISE FOR "PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE"
"The study of the impossible has opened up entirely new vistas for science, Kaku rightly points out. It is here that the book's strength lies: the impossible is a gateway for discussing what we still do not understand, those gray areas that are surely the most fascinating part of physics.....there is a surprising amount of heavyweight, cutting-edge science woven into the fabric of this book. String theory, dark energy, metamaterials and quantum theory are just a few topics - PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE is, in fact, an easy-to-read physics primer in disguise. Kaku has huge reach as a writer and speaker. Hopefully, his acessible, entertaining, and inspiring book will set the next Einstein on his or her path to glory."
-"The New Scientist
""Michio Kaku's latest book, PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, aims to explain exactly why some visions of the future may eventually realized while others are likely to remain beyond the bounds of possibility...Science fiction often explores such questions; science falls silent at this point. Mr. Kaku's work helps to fill a void."
-"The Economist"
"Kaku encourages us to take seriously ideas the world's great intellects consider crazy, reminding us that these same powerful minds sometimes wonder whether such way-out theories and models of the universe are crazy enough to be true."
-"The Seattle Times.
""An invigorating experience""
-THe Christian Science Monitor"
"A genuine tour de force, skillfully delivering cogent descriptions of everything from subatomic structure to the laws of the universe."
-Kirkus (starred review)
Science and science fiction buffs can easily follow Kaku s explanations as he shows that in the
wonderful worlds of science, impossible things are happening every day. "Publishers Weekly"
"Tour de force of science and imagination."
- LIbrary Journal (starred review)
"A fascinating exploration of the interface between science and science fiction, extremely well researched, lively, and tremendously entertaining. Fritjof Capra, author of "The Tao of Physics" and "The Science of Leonardo"

CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR "PARALLEL WORLDS"
A wonderful tour, with an expert guide, of a cosmos whose comprehension forces us to stretch to the very limits of imagination. Brian Greene, author of "The Fabric of the Cosmos"
A highly readable and exhilarating romp through the frontiers of cosmology.
Martin Rees, author of "Our Cosmic Habitat" and "Our Final Century"
A roller-coaster ride through the universe and beyond by one of the world s finest science writers. Paul Davies, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of "How to Build a Time Machine
"
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR "HYPERSPACE"
One of the best popular accounts of higher physics. Jim Holt, "Wall Street Journal"
Among the best of the genre to appear in recent years . . . What a wonderful adventure it is. "New York Times Book Review"
Mesmerizing . . . the reader exits dizzy, elated, and looking at the world in a literally revolutionary way. "Washington Post Book World""

Review

'One of the world's most distinguished physicists ... takes the reader on a journey to the frontiers of science and beyond'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Got this book and finished it the day after it arrived. Captivating stuff ! As a high level introduction to the current state of a variety of scientific areas it's fantastic.
Kaku tends to spend a little more time on the areas close to him, but everthing gets good coverage. As a springboard to understand current progress it allows the reader to go off and find more information on the particular subject areas that interest them.
I read it in the same week as Ray Kurzweil's 'The Singularity is Near' and it's interesting to see both the overlap, and how things have moved on in 5 years.
All in all a great book for the layman and those with a scientific background. Oh, and a great price for a hardback book right now :)
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Format: Paperback
Agree with all the comments above, and I very much enjoyed the book. My one issue was the surprising number of errors that I really would have expected to be caught by someone before it got to a printing press. Some examples - "transatlantic flights from LA to NY", "kiwi - the flightless Australian bird". The trivial errors in easily checked facts made me wonder a little about the stuff that I couldn't verify.
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By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
The premise of this book is fabulous. Take all the things which we've read about and seen in science fiction books, TV shows and films, and examine how possible, or impossible they are.

So we have phasers, death stars, time travel, warp engines, telepathy and many many more. Yes, it's a geek heaven, but hopefully the book is accessible enough to attrect a wider audience. It certainly deserves it.

Kaku's approach is to look at the fictional invention, explain why it is impossible as it stands, but then go on to see how real physics could create something similar in the future. He classes inventions into type 1,2 and 3 impossibilities, possible in some form within the next century, possible in the distant future, and impossible given the laws of physics as they are currently understood. This is a framework which gives the author the opportunity to potter around on some of the more exciting playing fields of modern physics.

The most surprising thing about the book is the number of things he tags as type 1 impossibilities (starships, forcefields and teleportation amongst them) and the very small number of type three (perpetual motion, precognition).

The strength of the book is simply its source material. The whacky world of theoretical physics is one that should have interest to many beyond a purely scientific audience, especially when described in the largely layperson's terms used here.

My one slight niggle is that while Kaku is relatively easy to read, he isn't the most inspiring author in the world. His material is the inspiring part, and he puts it across well, but in the end I found the structure of the book rather repetitive.

Minor quibble though. Rcommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Michio Kaku takes a pleasant verbal stroll along science fiction classics like force fields, time travel, parallel universes, telepathy, artificial intelligence and the like, while explaining the physics that would be involved in making these come true. Quite a lot more is physically possible than one would think.

Mr Kaku does a fine job of systematically exploring the boundaries of science and fiction. Unfortunately, his prose is rather bland and the anekdotes - the icing on the cake in books like this - lack the liveliness that is needed for a really gripping read. For readers who prefer content over style this should be no deterrent.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't like Physics at school. It's 15 years since I took my GCSE and what I basically remember is a few classes on momentum and velocity, a circuit board that made a mini lightbulb light up, and basically bricking it that I was going to fail and poring over past papers in the library. I actually got a B, but God knows how. My point is though, thrilling it wasn't.

Wishing to have more concrete knowledge than half hearted bits and bobs, I went on the hunt for accessible physics books and liked the look of this one "A rich compendium of jaw dropping reality checks" says The Times.

This book discusses Force Fields, Invisibility, Phasers, The Death Star, Teleportation, Telepathy, Psychokinesis, Robots, Extraterrestrials, Starships, Antimatter, Time Travel, Parallel Universe and Precognition. Not only that but Kaku discusses these things within a frame of popular culture references, so you get what each particular science looks like. He references Star Trek, Star Wars, and many science fiction films and novels to illustrate his points.

A classic example is the Hover Board from Back To Future 2, the future toy we all thought we would see when we grew up. Currently impossible, the Hover Board is actually technically possible within the laws of physics, it's just that practical reality, discovery and invention haven't caught up to the theoretical science. But one day it might....... :-D

Kaku breaks down all these exciting but currently impossible things from the realms of science fiction into three classes.

Class I impossibilities are currently impossible technologies but which do not violate the laws of physics and may become possible within this century.
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