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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel Paperback – 28 May 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel
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  • Physics of the Future: The Inventions That Will Transform Our Lives
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  • Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and Our Future in the Cosmos
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141030909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141030906
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'A rich compendium of jaw-dropping reality checks'

--

The Times



'After reading Kaku's boundless enthuasiasm for the future, what you wouldn't give for a real-life time machine'

--

Sunday Telegraph



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

--

Guardian

Review

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

See all Product description

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
A great book focused on the next generation of thinking beyond the traditional view of science as incremental and often historical.

I particularly liked the type 1,2,3 models of civilizations and the way science fiction was used to illustrate how to think big and beyond the current constraints of technology.

I see the core approach to focus on the parameters of what needs to get done and how to design towards these outcomes even if they are way beyond today's technology is essential for innovation to be more that just disruptive and truly transformational. I hope the triumph of the first few decades of the 20th Century will be seen again in the 21st. The main achievement of this book was it its unabashed language to say it as it is and to go out and question everything even with popular science fiction anecdotes. This is much closer to real science and what we need in this age of rapidly diminishing resources and escalating challenges. I have lost count the number of times I have thought "who is fixing the propulsion speed problem" as most all conversations keep looking at today's performance only.

With so much of today's focus on reducing energy consumption and "combating" climate change and growth I found it positive and uplifting to say that energy consumption is relative and to debunk what I see as media fads and miss use of common science. I genuinely felt for the misdirection Hawkins caused over the Godels incompleteness theorems and your point about moving beyond this by avoiding self-referential statements; the damage caused by Comte to French Science; the Conan Doyle tragedy and the persecution of Turin. I see this all the time in my field of Information Technology and is a warning to anyone who gets hooked on single idea to fix all.
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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: 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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