Friday, May 16, 2008

Physics Of The Impossible eBook edition

Henri is the serious science reader in our household.  He just finished this book and highly recommends it.  After this review, I am (almost) tempted to read it.                                      ---Gigi            

Some of the best Science Fiction I have ever read was masquerading  as science fact.

The ultimate discovery of the truth about our universe has always fascinated me. When I was taught Physics, in that high school so long ago, in a galaxy far away.  Newton still largely filled the pages with his view of the universe. Schrodinger’s Cat was a little too hip for that place and time.

Since then I have tried on many occasions to read such deathless tomes as, “Quantum Mechanics For Dummies.” (That book really exists in some universe in the multiverse, I am certain of that fact; just not yet in this one.)

Michio Haku’s new book, “Physics Of The Impossible,” accomplished the almost impossible feat of updating me on the physics of the brave new world of the atomic and subatomic scales. That is a world where natural phenomena are weirder than fiction. The simple fact is the author clarified what is known. He discussed what is not known. He even speculated on what is likely to never be known; in the particular sense that is the purview of the physicist’s theories about our universe and its possible brethren in the multiverse.

The book engaged my ancient curiosity and thoroughly fulfilled its role in defining how the physical world is constructed and the possible limits of human endeavors to control it.

The author divides the world where current knowledge is not quite yet complete into three categories of impossibility. That is a particularly clever device in expostulating about the Quantum world and the Multiverse. Both are places where the impossible happens, often before breakfast.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the author’s clarity on what is known and what is still unknown in an area of science where he has spent a lifetime.

The plot may have been a little thin, but I am used to Science Fiction and can live on plots so thin that the air in them is likely to never stir up a mote of dust.

I recommend this book to the curious or the merely acquisitive; who often need a tabletop book to impress their friends and acquaintances. Even if you don’t ever read this book, buy it. Someone else will eventually read it and it will spread its knowledge and confusion clarifying facts a little further into the human world.

Here is what the publisher says:

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.

One hundred years ago, scientists would have said that lasers, televisions, and the atomic bomb were beyond the realm of physical possibility. In Physics of the Impossible, the renowned physicist Michio Kaku explores to what extent the technologies and devices of science fiction that are deemed equally impossible today might well become commonplace in the future.

From teleportation to telekinesis, Kaku uses the world of science fiction to explore the fundamentals—and the limits—of the laws of physics as we know them today. He ranks the impossible technologies by categories—Class I, II, and III, depending on when they might be achieved, within the next century, millennia, or perhaps never.

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