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Beyond Star Trek: From Alien Invasions to the End of Time [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence M. Krauss
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
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Book Description

In the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, the renowned theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss took readers on an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe to see how it stacked up against the real universe. Now, responding to requests for more as well as to a number of recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy, Krauss takes a provocative look at how the laws of physics relate to notions from our popular culture -- not only Star Trek, but other films, shows, and popular lore -- from Independence Day to Star Wars to The X-Files.

  • What's the difference between a flying saucer and a flying pretzel?

  • Why didn't the aliens in Independence Day have to bother invading Earth to destroy it?
  • What's new with warp drives?

  • What's the most likely scenario for doomsday?

  • Are ESP and telekinesis impossible?

  • What do clairvoyance and time travel have in common?

  • How might quantum mechanics ultimately affect the fate of life in the universe?


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lawrence M. Krauss's publishing record reveals his knowledge of dark matter, cosmic strings, baryon number violations at the electroweak scale -- and the mysterious, sometimes bogus TV "science" that the Star Trek generation cut its teeth on. Krauss's previous book, The Physics of Star Trek, was readable, educational, and clever, never talking down to the layman or trivializing physics.

In this equally amusing companion volume, Krauss analyzes more science in Star Trek and the next generation of sci-fi movies and TV shows. Can telekinesis exist? How about ESP? Like Fox Mulder of The X-Files, we want to believe, and Krauss finesses these issues, allowing, after much discussion of gravity and electromagnetic forces, that "there is little doubt that undiscovered forces...exist at some level." He's a bit harder on the alien spacecraft of the movie Independence Day, arguing that objects so large inside our atmosphere would exert a downward pressure of 450 pounds per square inch, and that the saucers could therefore crush skyscrapers simply by hovering over them. "Of course," quips Krauss, "this wouldn't have made for spectacular previews of coming attractions." Whether you're a Trekkie, an X-phile, or a serious student of physics, you'll like this book.

From Kirkus Reviews

Many scientists say that reading science fiction inspired them to launch their careers. Krauss concludes: Why not draw on sci-fi lore, exploits, and tales to teach hard science? The author (Physics and Astronomy/Case Western Reserve Univ.) scored a bestseller with his previous book, The Physics of Star Trek (1995). Now he expands his scope to address other sci-fi hits, ranging from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey to TV's The X-Files. He also scrutinizes such newsworthy events as the chess match between world champion Gary Kasparov and an IBM computer. Krauss begins by examining the alien attack on Earth that was portrayed in the movie Independence Day. He uses basic Newtonian physics to show that the gravitational effects of the huge arriving alien ships would have caused floods and earthquakes sufficient to destroy our civilization before the invaders had even fired a shot. Next, the author assesses the supposed flight characteristics of UFOs, depicted as stopping on a dime and making sudden sharp turns at utterly unbelievable speeds. Krauss calculates that these maneuvers would create inertial G-forces greater than a close-range nuclear explosion; neither the pilots nor any conceivable construction material could withstand them. Another chapter examines the cost of mounting an interstellar expedition, a journey that would require many decades to complete and cost more than the moon. Later chapters apply the principle of general relativity to star travel, explore computer consciousness, and forecast the end of the world. The book concludes by affirming the author's belief that the universe is a place of boundless potential--and that we must fathom it. Perhaps because Krauss shares the public's affection for the pop sources he consults, his book will entertain and instruct general readers without insulting the scientifically literate. ($75,000 ad/promo; author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 322 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060977574
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KKXVA2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,487 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(24)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Believe the title June 25, 2000
Format:Hardcover
It seems an immutable law of SF that sequels don't live up to the original work. Fortunately for Dr. Krauss, Star Trek proved an exception to that rule, and his own sequel borrows some of that magic, succeeding both on its own and in comparison to "The Physics of Star Trek".
That being said, the book's title is significant. This is not a book about Star Trek, or even a book about SF in popular culture, but a book about science. The SF is there, but mainly as a springboard to discuss issues in physics, astronomy, and other sciences. And the issues are fascinating: Dr. Krauss explores the theoretical underpinnings of starship propulsion, ESP, and inter-species mating, all with the same careful, humorous style that characterized his first book. And as a bonus, you get one of the best explanations of the principles of quantum mechanics, translated into layman's terms, that I've ever read.
But above all, believe the title. If you're looking for a catalog of science errors made by the writers of SF TV and movies, pick up one of the 'Nitpicker's Guides' assembled by Phil Farrand. If you want extra background material about the fictional worlds of Star Trek, the X- Files, or what-have-you, just browse through the SF section of your local bookstore (or Amazon)--the words are out there. But if you want a solid, entertaining look at the way things work on the real Planet Earth, then pick up this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the original October 14, 2003
Format:Hardcover
This book expands on the theme of the "Physics of Star Trek": namely drawing upon the science of today to ponder the validity and feasibility of the sci-fi science. Like its predecessor though somewhat to a lesser extent, this book suffers from a lack of vision by adhering to today's understanding of science (see my review for that book). The end result is still a readable and nice introduction to important questions in modern physics using science fiction as an example.
I found this book somewhat less interesting than its predecessor. For one thing there is some repetition with "The Physics of Star Trek". Further, the most interesting issues have already been addressed in the earlier book, leaving the crumbs to this one. So, if you have read the first book, you might not be as excited by this one. Nevertheless it is still an enjoyable read.
A word of caution, despite the "Star Trek" in the title, there is very little Star Trek in this book. Instead, the author expands the comparison to cover other cinematic shows like "X-files" or "Independence Day" (the "Beyond" part of the title). While this is OK and does not diminish the interest of the book, pure Star Trek fans who buy this book expecting to read about Star Trek will be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
As a lifelong science fiction fan and one well-schooled in science, I enjoy the stories while acknowledging the holes in the scientific aspects. In this book, Krauss does an excellent job of explaining the scientific realities in the context of some of the wonders we see on the screen. Star Trek, in all of its many manifestations, is the primary focus. He also discusses the "X-files" television show and the movie "Independence Day."

One of the interesting points concerns the alien ships in "Independence Day." The mother ship was so massive that its mere presence would have had a significant affect on the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the sun. This would have caused a dramatic climate change, which all by itself could have defeated the human race.

Krauss also explores the potential for ESP and telekinesis based on our current understanding of physics. While he acknowledges that we almost certainly do not know of all the forces operating in the universe, he uses the conservation of energy to predict how powerful the motive force for ESP would have to be. He puts forward convincing arguments that the energy expended in carrying out such actions is large enough that it could not escape detection. This is a strong argument against ESP, because that means the only argument in favor is to claim the existence of a force that cannot be detected by our current instrumentation. That is a very difficult argument to make, but it is an even more difficult one to refute.

This is one of those books that I started one afternoon and finished the next day, reading nothing else in between. As Carl Sagan used to say, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." If we assume that the laws of physics are universal and we understand them to a high level of accuracy, then his arguments are overwhelmingly convincing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good book! November 18, 1999
Format:Paperback
This was an excellent book. It gives a good explanation on some of the more exciting areas of physics, without needing to take a course in physics or needing to understand all the math it would (normally) involve. I highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Star Trek doesn't go far enough October 23, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I read Krauss' previous work "The Physics of Star Trek" which was very enlightning and held my interest. It was written from a layman's point of view and stuck to the task he set out to accomplish which was to show how the things we see in Star Trek could or could not happen.
But in this work, Krauss goes farther to tackle discussions of the realities of physics when applied to components from other Sci-Fi story lines. In my opinion, this work falls short in its task of disprooving many of these components. His extensive discussions of ESP and of faster than light travel tend to become narrowly focused on assumptions that he disproved at the onset. Many of his discussions never deviate from one possible explanation and he seems to dismiss entirely discussions of possible unknowns that may make other explanations possible. I believe that he's taken on too much at once in this latest work.
But on the plus side, his writing is good and his arguments are more or less sound and they progress well. His philosophical thoughts (at albeit rare times throughout the book) on science's bigger questions I found to be refreshing. And staying true to Sci-Fi fans everywhere he seems to operate on the assumption that anything could be possible while sticking to his classical physics training that dictates scientific methodologies and study.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
I really enjoyed this book. It was fun to read. Dr. Krauss is so knowledgeable on this subject and really put a great deal of effort into writing this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dexter
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable science book
I like almost everything Krauss writes, and Beyond Star Trek is no exception. He uses science fiction programs and movies like Independence Day and the X-Files to teach the reader... Read more
Published on April 23, 2010 by J. Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful book!
This was a great book, if you love science fact, or fiction, this is the book for you. At times the book was hard to read, but it was very enlightening on several misunderstood... Read more
Published on April 27, 2009 by Nianque
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea but limited vision
This volume by Lawrence Krauss is a physicistsâ(tm) exploration of the scientific feasibility of âaeStar Trek scienceâ. Read more
Published on October 19, 2008 by Giant Panda
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent critical thinking
I don't know what ever compelled me to buy this book, I try to avoid anything Trek-y. However I took away a great exercise in critical thinking. Read more
Published on June 13, 2008 by E. Edwards
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for Trekkers
As a good and honest physicist totally rooted in the established Einsteinian relativism, Laurence Krauss ticks off each foolish error made by the science fiction writers of Star... Read more
Published on March 28, 2008 by J. W. Copeland
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond star trek by Lawrence M. Krauss
Very entertaing book. Anyone with a love for science and Star trk will enjoy this book. Highly recommended
Published on August 27, 2005 by Johnny Bear
4.0 out of 5 stars BEYOND BEAM ME UP SCOTTY........
Author Laurence Krauss is Chairman of the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve. He is also the author of several other books including THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK. Read more
Published on July 21, 2003 by Joyce Schwarz
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but first book was much better
I am a big fan of books that use science to critically examine the (im)possibilities of Science Fiction. Read more
Published on January 3, 2002 by Boris Jansen
2.0 out of 5 stars This Is An Outdated Book!
I don't care how respected this professor Krauss is or how many awards he has won, the physics information he presents in "Beyond Star Trek" is already out of date. Read more
Published on November 18, 2000 by Michael Topper
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More About the Author

I was born in New York City and shortly afterward moved to Toronto, spending my childhood in Canada. I received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from Carleton University, and my Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.

After a stint in the Harvard Society of Fellows, I became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1985 and Associate Professor in 1988. I moved in 1993 to become Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, professor of astronomy, and Chairman of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University In August 2008 I joined the faculty at Arizona State University as Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Director of the University's Origins Initiative. In 2009 we inaugurated this this initiative with the Origins Symposium [www.origins.asu.edu] in which 80 of the world's leading scientists participated, and 3000 people attended.

I write regularly for national media, including The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, Scientific American (for which I wrote a regular column last year), and other magazines, as well as doing extensive work on radio and television. I am strongly committed to public understanding of science, and have helped lead the national effort to preserve sound science teaching, including the teaching of evolution. I also served on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign science policy committee. In 2008 I became co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and in 2010 was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

I became a scientist in part because I read books by other scientists, such as Albert Einstein, George Gamow, Sir James Jeans, etc, when I was a child, and my popular writing returns the favor. One of my greatest joys is when a young person comes up to me and tells me that one of my books motivated them to become a scientist.

I believe science is not only a vital part of our culture, but is fun, and I try and convey that in my books and lectures. I am honored that Scientific American referred to me as a rare scientific public intellectual, and that all three three major US Physics Societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics, have seen fit to honor me with their highest awards for research and writing.

My research focuses on the beginning and end of the Universe. Among my contributions to the field of cosmology, I helped lead the search for dark matter, and first proposed the existence of dark energy in 1995.

When I have the chance, I love to mountain bike, fly fish, and scuba dive. I spend a tremendous amount of time on planes now, alas, and enjoy flying, but hate airports..

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