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Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons Hardcover – 23 Sep 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (21 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195130065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195130065
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,548,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Clifford Pickover is IBM's Renaissance-guy-in- residence. His job is to play with cool ideas--time travel (Time: A Traveler's Guide), extraterrestrials (The Science of Aliens) and the line between genius and crackpot (Strange Brains and Genius). His latest game is an oldie but goodie: Trying to imagine the fourth dimension.

Like a number of his other books, Surfing is structured as a fiction, in this case an X-Files romance--Pickover clearly has a deep and personal appreciation for Scully (whom he calls "Sally", presumably on advice of counsel). You, dear reader, are the FBI's chief investigator of four-dimensional phenomena. As you and your cohorts chase bizarre manifestations from "upsilon" (4-D up) and "delta" (4-D down), Pickover provides explanations, paradoxes and problems, with many helpful drawings and computer-generated illustrations.

Pickover's book, like every work on higher dimensions, is something of a sequel to Edwin Abbott's classic story, Flatland . Like Abbott,Pickover doesn't just look at the mathematics: "I want to know if humankind's Gods could exist in the fourth dimension." Not for the theologically squeamish, this book is lively, provocative, outrageous and fascinating. --Mary Ellen Curtin, Amazon.com

Review

...within a few months, you too will come across others in the grip of infection by this amazing book. (New Scientist)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This is an introduction to the understanding of fourth dimension. Most books, science-TV shows, and websites introduce fourth dimension by comparing the interaction of the three dimensional beings (us) with imaginary 2-dimensional dwellers (flatlanders). Our interaction with flatlanders causes mystery and miracle to them simply by the virtue of us having the freedom of an extra dimension. From this we can extrapolate to the interaction of imaginary four dimensional dwellers with our world and they certainly appear to us as mysterious. This book illustrates these comparisons in the form of conversations between two (male and female) fictitious FBI agents. Although the author does a good job of helping the reader develop a good feeling for the fourth dimension, the dialogue between FBI agents sometimes gets sensual, which the author could have certainly avoided in a science related book (sometimes it gives you a feeling that you are reading a semi-romantic novel). There is no doubt the author is influenced by the TV show X-files as he often quotes from the show. Towards the end of the book, the author briefly touches upon the fifth dimension.

Hyperspace is not excluded by the laws of physics. Can human beings access fourth dimension? Could we learn to see the fourth dimension? Is it true that the evolution of human brain is such that it can understand only three dimensions? Do we need three dimensional retina to see the fourth dimension? Is hyperspace a survival zone for humans in the event of a catastrophe to this planet? Some of the suggestions made in the conclusions are less scientific, but the author touches some interesting topics that include biology of evolution and psychology.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is probably as easy to understand as understanding Hyperspace or the 4th Dimension could be. I read it in one night. My only complaint would be that it didn't go into as much detail about some of the ideas as was clearly possible, although perhaps this would have complicated such an introduction. I understood the book even having no maths or physics background beyond High School. But was very satisfied to see my subjects, Biology and Psychology covered for possible 2D and 4D and above creatures. Hyperspace seems to have the potential to explain everything from Souls to Gods to space and time travel. This book might disappoint those already familar with the ideas. And even I was aware of much of the material already, but perhaps an excellant present to give your unsuspecting parents or friends. X-Files Fans will enjoy too.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book probably functions as a good introduction to the concept of higher dimensions if you know absolutely zero about the subject. If you've read Abbot's "Flatland" then it's probably not worth delving into this as most of the book is simply rehashing concepts from that - I confess that I got a bit bored with reading about the same idea rephrased in marginally different ways.

In addition the fictional narrative that starts every chapter is somewhat amateurish, and really adds very little to the book - I would rather have read a textbook presented as such than this half-hearted attempt at appealing to the x-files generation.

There's also a rather strange attempt to sell higher dimensions as religious concepts - god as a 4D being, heaven and hell as spaces slightly removed from us in higher dimensions etc. In something that purports to be a textbook I could have done without this. I realise that there has been serious theological and philosophical discussion around these points, but to my mind the author failed to remain unbiased here, which I simply found annoying.

That said, if you really don't know anything about hyperspace or multiple dimensions it's all written in layman's terms and is very easy to understand. In that respect it's probably an excellent place to start, though I imagine that if it catches your interest you'll be wanting to do some wider reading.

One section I did find useful is appendix B - a list of various works of fiction that all contain the context of hyperspace/higher dimensions in some way. While I've already read a lot of the stories listed it did provide me with some useful suggestions that I'll be looking to add to my library.

All in all 2.5 / 5. I've chosen to be generous and round this up to 3 rather than down to 2. Perhaps I should rate it as a quaternion: 2.3 + 3.2i + 1.8j + 2.4k
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful tool for helping to visualise the concept of a fourth dimension, but unfortunately the main theme is often lost in an embarrassing display of gender stereotyping (I'm sure he intends it to be tongue in cheek, but it's unnecessary and verging on offensive). Also, the stories are made difficult to get into by the author assuming that the reader (who he addresses in the second person) is male. My final gripe is that the Kindle edition is riddled with typos. All that aside, worth a read if you want to get a grasp on higher dimensions.
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