Customer Reviews: Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100
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on March 15, 2011
I'm a huge fan of Michio Kaku's books, and "The Physics of the Future" is definitely not a disappointment. The book offers an expansive view of future technologies, and takes a new approach: Kaku plays journalist and interviews over 300 other top scientists in a variety of fields. The result is that you get the insights of those experts, but presented though the lens of Kaku's own deep understanding of physics and of what is ultimately likely to be possible or not.

Even though Kaku carefully grounds everything within the limits of the laws of nature, his specific predictions turn out to be pretty aggressive. He foresees technologies like "retinal display" contact lenses that connect directly to the internet, driverless cars, the mixing of real and virtual reality, and software "robotic doctors" that might replace most people's initial visit to the doctor and "correctly diagnose 95% of common ailments."

Kaku is also optimistic about progress in medicine, biotech and nanotechnology suggesting that we'll have medical "tricorders" like the ones on Star Trek, miniature nanobots coursing through our veins, advanced gene therapy, and maybe designer children. He even envisions that aging might be reversed and a nanotechnology "replicator" that would be able to construct almost anything from individual atoms might be possibilities by the year 2100.

Kaku also believe that computers, artificial intelligence and robots will advance rapidly, even though he foresees a possible slow down in the rate of improvement as Moore's Law potentially hits a wall. He's more conservative than people like Ray Kurzweil, suggesting that we might have true artificial intelligence or even conscious machines, but not until the end of the century.

One area where I think Kaku gets it wrong is in his discussion of how all this will impact the job market and the economy. He seems glued to the idea that only very repetitive jobs will be affected, giving factory workers as an example. Yet he talks of robots that will cook and software that will do the jobs of doctors, and might even become conscious. It seems clear that technology like that would be able to do the jobs of millions of people who sit in offices or work in the service industries and pretty much do the same sorts of things over and over again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 20, 2011
Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

"Physics of the Future" is a fabulous, thought-provoking, engaging and accessible book on the physics of the future. What sets this book apart, is Dr. Kaku's prodigious knowledge and his innate ability to convey complex topics in an engaging conversational manner. This fantastic 416-page book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1. Future of the Computer: Mind over Matter, 2. Future of AI: Rise of the Machines, 3. Future of Medicine: Perfection and Beyond, 4. Nanotechnology: Everything from Nothing?, 5. Future of Energy: Energy from the Stars, 6. Future of Space Travel: To the Stars, 7. Future of Wealth, 8. Future of Humanity: Planetary Civilization, and 9. A Day in the Life in 2100.

1. Engaging scientific writing for the masses. Dr. Kaku gets it and he knows how to relay his knowledge in a lucid and entertaining manner.
2. Great format. Each chapter begins with a couple of chapter appropriate quotes, an appetizer of an introduction (with a little mythology analogy for good measure) and then broken out by three subchapters: Near Future (Present to 2030), Midcentury (2030 to 2070), and Far Future (2070 to 2100).
3. Great use of popular culture to make his points easy to convey. The use of popular Sci-Fi movies to explain complex concepts is brilliant.
4. A fantastic idea of a book and I couldn't be happier that Dr. Kaku is the mastermind behind it. Great wisdom throughout.
5. Great science for all to enjoy. The future looks fascinating.
6. Finally, a fun, profound yet accessible book about physics of the future.
7. This book is like the behind the scenes look at the science behind the best Sci-Fi movies ever. Excellent!
8. The best way to predict the future is to consult the greatest minds, the subject matter experts and Dr. Kaku does exactly that.
9. How the four fundamental forces changed human history.
10. The future of Moore's law.
11. Our minds will control computers...just make sure husbands get this technology before the wives do.
12. Will robots inherit the earth? Only if they're fembots but I digress.
13. Fascinating look at why brains are superior to computers. I think.
14. Optogenetics...optowhat? Read and find out. I see.
15. Punctuated equilibrium best describes the way in which progress is made.
16. The fascinating future of medicine. You shall be healed.
17. We must clone Dr. Kaku.
18. Designer children, too late for me...
19. I want to be a geneticist...
20. "The quantum theory has one thing going for it: it is correct." Love that quote.
21. small feat.
22. Energy saving ideas. Like you've never seen before. Powerful stuff.
23. Global warming...the topic just keeps heating up. Great explanation.
24. Space technology is far out!
25. The number 25,000 has a totally new significance to me. You can count on it.
26. New propulsion systems considered. It's not like it's rocket science...oh wait it is.
27. Science and technology are the engines of prosperity. NEMA.
28. The rise of intellectual capitalism. My two cents.
29. The importance of using science for the good of our planet.
30. Dr. Kaku does a wonderful job of tying everything together with an amusing story.
31. Great list of notes and a recommended reading list that has my attention.
32. Fascinating book from cover to cover.

1. Links didn't work.
2. Some folks, particular those in the science field, may object to the book being "dumbed" down. I have no complaints since the book was meant for the masses.
3. Having to wait for Mr. Kaku's next book.

In summary, this book is a real treat. I absolutely loved it. Great science, interesting facts, and a fascinating look at the future. Dr. Kaku is such an engaging, brilliant man; he tackles an ambitious project like this and succeeds on all accounts. This is the reason why I love science and this is the reason I enjoy reading books. I can't recommend this book enough. A well deserved 5-star book. Bravo!
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on March 19, 2011
First, I'm a big fan of Michio, which is why I purchased the book. But I've noticed a frustrating pattern with his books over the years, he dumbs down the concepts he writes about more and more with each book. Okay, I get it, speaking to the lowest common denominator is important to get your message across. But remember, Michio, you need to speak to the lowest common denominator of people who read books about physics. Unfortunately, this seems to be lost on Michio. This book barely even covers any physics until the second half of the book, and even then the book is mostly about implementations of technology. I estimate that 80% the first 2/5 of the book covers medicine, genetics and other life sciences concepts.

But what is perhaps most disappointing about this book, is Michio's fantastic underestimation of how fast our technology will progress in the coming years. (In order to avoid spoilers I will try to speak in generalities for the most part) In the introduction to the book, Michio clearly explains that "prototypes of all the technologies mentioned...already exist". Fine, it's great that Michio had the best intentions by making predictions based on "real" and "tangible" examples. Unfortunately what ends up happening is that Michio predicts with awe and reverence how, for example, 30 to 70 years from now "augmented reality" will be accessible to everyone, and the examples he gives for how augmented reality will change our lives are just, well, boring, trite, and seriously underestimate the power of this concept. How do I know? Because I (along with many thousands of other iphone and android users) have been using augmented reality apps on my phone for the last couple of years that are far more interesting and powerful in how they impact my life than what Michio predicts will occur in 30 to 70 years. I was reading his predictions thinking, "wow, has Michio even researched what's happening in augmented reality TODAY?" I'm sure some people who have read the book will disagree with my point here, but keep in mind that he focused the entire section of the book on the impact of augmented reality in the next 30 to 70 years, but augmented reality is happening today. The only thing that hasn't is the methods of delivery he describes (I don't want to be specific to avoid spoilers).

Another thing that frustrates me lately about Michio is his increasing trend towards predicting the limitations of certain technologies; but with poor logic. For instance, he likes to pontificate about the "death of Moore's law" and the "limitations of aritificial intelligence", but seems to repeatedly underestimate the power of compounding, exponential growth of technology and information, and creative solutions that even he might not be aware of. For instance, when considering artificial intelligence, Michio seems to only consider the "innate" local intelligence of computers (or even robots), and doesn't tip his hat to the fact that 1) we already live in a completely networked society, so the intelligence computers are NOT capped by power of their local transistors, but by the intelligence of ALL computers everywhere, collectively. I'm not a supporter of "spontaneous" intelligence arising from connected machines, but I do think that it's relevant to consider the growth of networked computers when considering the limitations of computing power; 2) unlike *people* who, when they die, leave all of their accumulated knowledge behind, computers will pass their aggregate memes, learning experiences, nuances and vast store of memories from one generation of machines to the next. It seems that Michio's idea of robots and computers is similar to the AI from the movies in the 1950s through 1990s: when a robot dies, their memories die with them... That hasn't been the case since computers have existed, and it's silly to think that as progress is made with AI that each successive generation of artificial intelligence will have to start all over again on the learning curve. Clearly, they will have the ability to pick up right where the last generation left off without any information lost. and 3) the rapidly convergence of technologies is already negating the importance of Moore's law which predicts the rate at which transistors can be sqeezed onto integrated circuits, and how price will decrease accordingly. He places waaaay too much importance on the death of Moore's law. It really doesn't matter if Moore's law doesn't continue to hold true after the year 2020 because we can continue to receive exponential benefits from technology and information from an infinite number of other technological advancements. Software today is so inefficient that the potential benefits from software improvements alone are staggering. From Michio's perspective, however, Moore's prediction about the efficiency and price-performance of transistors will limit are technological progress after the year 2020. Predicting the death of this linear growth without considering how other converging technologies will make Moore's law irrelevant is incredibly short-sighted. Let's assume Moore's law does break down in 2020. Scientists (and big business) will look to other areas to pick up the slack: improved software, massively parallel processing, cloud computing, grid computing, solid state hard drives, quantum computing, etc. the sum total impact of all of these things trumps linear advancements in raw (local) computing power from shrinking transistors.

I'm disappointed because there were so many other things Michio could have focused on besides medicine and genetic engineering. Those topics are interesting, but they didn't get the treatment they deserved in a book called "Physics of the Future", written by a physicist. I couldn't believe how much Michio focused on biology, all the while missing a perfect opportunity to discuss synthetic biology and the convergence of nanotech with biology. He barely skimmed this topic, and spent chapters on genetic engineering. Interesting, but not physics.

As for his predictions on the impact of technology on capitalism, I think he should stick to physics. Our concepts about the "enterprise" and how individuals provide value in exchange for compensation are already starting to change, and this will only accelerate and compound in the years to come.

I don't want to sound like sour grapes because I actually really like Michio and I (usually) enjoy reading his books, but I have to say I'm disappointed with the simple-speak in this book. Michio spent way too much time talking about commercial technologies that have nothing to do with physics, and not enough time talking about many other interesting and speculative areas pf physics that might bring completely new technologies to fruition in the next 100 years. For that reason among others, I have a hard time recommending this book.
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Author Michio Kaku is a national treasure. He is one of those fascinating people that somehow manages to make the unthinkable, thinkable, and therein lays the magic of the man. From writing several scientific best sellers to narrating award winning television shows on physics, he is able to get the rest of us to understand some very difficult and counter intuitive concepts in a fun and highly interesting sort of way, and for that we are in his debt.

This, his latest book is a spellbinding 369 page journey through 9 chapters of what he believes will be the future of physics. His recommended reading list at the back of the book is worth the price of the book by itself. If you are into science, it represents a who's who of science today.

Kaku has taken his reputation which is considerable as one of the co-developers of "string theory", and used it to consult with 300 prominent physicists and scientists throughout the world to seek out their opinions on what the future of physics will be like. From entrepreneur genius Ray Kurzweil who is one of the smartest people alive to intelligence and geopolitical thinker George Friedman, don't go to sleep reading this book, because you will find yourself staying awake pouring through it. Just scan the titles of the nine chapters covered and you will know what a treat you are in for:

Chapter 1 Computers

Chapter 2 Artificial Intelligence

Chapter 3 Medicine

Chapter 4 Nanotechnology

Chapter 5 Energy

Chapter 6 Space Travel

Chapter 7 Wealth

Chapter 8 Humanity

Chapter 9 A Day in the Life in 2100

Each chapter built on the previous chapter, and idea spawned idea as the author weaved a very interesting narrative of mankind's future built on physics. Kaku also takes us through the technology that will be spon off into products unimaginable today in our everyday life, but will be reasonable based upon where we are today, and what we can achieve in the balance of this century.

Kaku is adamant that we must have a firm understanding of the building blocks of the physics of the past in order to build upon the strong foundation we currently have to make correct leaps into the future. He used Jules Verne the novelist as an example of what we must strive to do. Verne amassed a vast library of both books and an archive of articles published during his lifetime of what scientists thought the future would bring, and how invention after invention would unfold.

Verne then based his futuristic and highly popular novels on that archive, and made very interesting speculations as to what would happen over the next hundred years, most of which proved accurate. Kaku also spent considerable efforts exploring Leonardo da Vinci's work, and even came across a couple of startling new notions about da Vinci. Only recently in our time, 1967 to be precise did historians find a new but misplaced manuscript by the painter of the Mona Lisa. In the manuscript Leonardo lays out the creation of an adding machine. Technologists then proceeded to build a working model of the machine from Leonardo's detailed description, and it worked. We are 600 years away from da Vinci lifetime, and yet his creations have transcended time.


If you have a deep interest in science and physics, and do not have the time to get deeply into the math which can be heavy, it is my suggestion that you treat yourself to this wonderful read, by this very powerful author who has made substantial theoretical contributions to his subject in his own right. You will not be disappointed, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
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on March 29, 2011
I disagree with some of the comments made below regarding this book.

The author explains scientific breakthroughs and future technology trends in a very simple way. Science is elegant in its simplest form and the author has focused on science at the thought provoking level and not at the text book level. If readers want more information, read science/technology text books for more details.

The author identifies promising technologies from IT, Computing, Nanotechnology, Medicine etc. and shows that some of those technologies can be great innovations in the future if they can converge together

Lastly : Science is about imagination and in its simplicity lies the true ideas for the future.
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on May 7, 2011
Michio Kaku does a great job painting his visions on paper with this book. He makes it very easy for anyone to visualize exactly what he is thinking and the best part is his constant attempt at witty humor. i would recomend this book for the non-scholar looking to learn a little more about the possibilities of modern science.
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VINE VOICEon April 14, 2011
Michio Kaku is one of my all time favorite science writers with books that are highly readable and entertaining. In "Physics of the Future" he tries his hand at predicting technology in the near future, the distant future and the further distant future including topics on energy, nanotechnology, medicine, space exploration, artificial intelligence and more. Kaku is a huge optimist but his writing doesn't gloss over some scary and occasionally terrifying possibilities for future technology. If pocket sized nuclear devices don't frighten you just consider a manufactured airborne AIDS virus and the section on global warming makes me wonder whether the human race even HAS a future beyond this century. The increased efficiency of science could make the creation of cataclysmic weapons simple for people with ill intents and even those with benevolent intents might inadvertently unleash a catastrophe; intelligent military robots, out of control nanobots, genetically created super viruses. Want something REALLY scary? Imagine medicine conquering death. Doesn't sound so bad until you consider our current political leaders LIVING FOREVER *shudder*

Most of the book is cheerier and Kaku's prediction is that intelligent robots will not be unleashing a Terminator type holocaust and people probably won't decide to implant their brains into indestructible androids. He envisions a future with medical devices similar to those in Star Trek and holographic devices similar to *ahem* Star Trek and universal translators similar to... actually he references Star Trek a heckuva lot. Kaku is clearly a huge fan of popular science fiction and makes a ton of references to movies and television. This has always been a trend in his book and it can be either endearing or distracting.

There are a few "um.. wha!?!?" moments in the book. For instances Kaku discusses the possibility of terraforming Mars to make it habitable for human's and one of the options he suggests is deflecting one of Jupiter's ice moons into Mars. Now maybe I just don't see all the possibilities of the future but moving around moons from one planet to another seems a bit out there. I'm also not nearly as confident as Kaku that humans will suddenly grow the wisdom necessary to handle tomorrow's more dangerous technology. As Kaku admits humans haven't changed much genetically in the past 100,000 years and I don't know how much change can happen in the next 90. There is still a tremendous amount of bigotry and shallow thinking even amongst out leaders today and I don't see that changing in less than a century. In some cases technology has only increased the spread of ignorance as illogical as that sounds. Kaku quote Isaac Asimov saying that the advance of knowledge always exceeds the advance of wisdom but Kaku stills seems confident in a positive outcome although a book on how we're all doomed might not be much of an enjoyable read. There are some enormous possibilities for the future that could quickly shake the entire power structure of the planet including working nuclear fusion and room temperature superconductors but given that neither of these technologies currently exists we can only dream of the possibilities.

Michio Kaku is like a modern day Carl Sagan and this is his "Cosmos". Kaku writes in a way that is accessible to just about any reader and I was engaged throughout. It's hopeful, it's scary, it's enlightening. If you like more of a challenge in your science books pick up something by Brian Greene but if you like some easy reading with a glimpse into the possibly future I haven't read better than Michio Kaku which is why I generally purchase just about every book he writes.
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on February 11, 2014
Unless you have been asleep for the past 30 years, every over-hyped and hackneyed development(especially those that are turning out to be dead ends and fables) is listed with bland predictability in a dry cataloging style, with occasional diversion to tell self aggrandizing stories. Also, the book is devoid of any insights in these areas.

Low lights:

Medical advancement will come from largely genetic engineering, wow we never heard this. It turns out that there will only limited advancements based on genetic engineering.

AI the will take over universe and create a giant AI universe singularity. I suggest reading 'The Great Mombo Chicken and the Transhuman condition' on this one.

There is a world of fantastic development beyond the intellectual corporate gulag-matrix that has sucked Dr Kaku in.
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VINE VOICEon May 5, 2011
I have been a fan of Michio Kaku for a long, long time. I never miss any of his television appearances or programs if I am able. I have read most of his books and feel an appreciation for him something akin to my regard for Carl Sagan.

Kaku's newest book Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 is a fitting continuation of his fine record of publishing. The book is devoid of any mathematics or tough scientific concepts. Instead, it is filled with an optimistic view of what the present century may bring us in the way of advances on the scientific front. When I say optimistic, don't misunderstand me. Kaku takes a hard look at some major problems facing mankind that we will have to deal with in the next century. For example, our reliance on fossil fuels, problems with nuclear energy, over population, disease to name just a few.

But Kaku also looks at areas that may truly benefit the human race in which he takes an optimistic stand, Nanotechnology, for example (Chapter 4, page 167). He sees nanotechnology as a huge benefit for man with manageable problems. In fact he says "This (nanotechnology) could begin a second industrial revolution, as molecular manufacturing creates new materials we can only dream about today, which are superstrong, superlight, with amazing electrical and magnetic properties."

In chapter 8, (Future of Humanity: Planetary Civilization) he introduces the reader to Nikolai Kardashev's Type I, II, and III civilizations. Kardashev classified a civilization by energy consumption. In brief, a Type I civilization is planetary meaning that it consumes a fraction of sunlight that falls on the planet. A Type II civilization is stellar consuming all the energy that its sun emits. A Type III civilization is galactic thus consuming the energy of billions of stars. If you want to get a sense of how little solar power we consume on Earth we don't even reach a Type I civilization. According to Kaku, we're a Type 0. This classification scheme is an interesting one. If you want some example of how this scheme works, Kaku suggests that the "Star Trek" civilization is actually a Type II and the civilization popularized in "Star Wars" is a Type III.

Physics runs throughout the book, but I think Physics of the Future is really a "futurist" book. Kaku takes a hard look at the next 100 years and his material is unique. I remember reading Future Shock and The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler. Physics of the Future is similar but certainly more optimistic all things considered.

Clearly written for the scientific layman, Physics of the Future is an intelligent study of the near future.

I highly recommend.
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HALL OF FAMEon March 1, 2012
I learned much from this book. Kaku is an excellent and clear expositor of ideas. He researched this book by speaking with three hundred scientists at the cutting edge of their fields. His aim was not to do Science Fiction, or mere Speculation but from the solid work now being done make the most reasonable predictions about the human future in 2100.
I read the last chapter first, and then moved my way backwards. That concluding chapter ' A Day in the Life in 2100' is rich in description of technical innovations. From DNA sensors monitoring the person's every change in physical status to contact lenses which connect the person to the Internet there are descriptions of technical improvements. What there is not is any convincing picture of transformations in human relationships. Nor is there any sense of what the world will be socially and politically. The hero of the single day adventure is an unmarried nerd who could come out of traditional Science - Fiction literature.
In the chapter before this on Planetary Civilization Kaku presents some of the major ideas of the book. He says that the present generation which he speaks of as the five thousandth in human history has it in its power to move us to a new level in our use of Energy. We can become a Planetary Civilization ,one in which present political structures mean much less, and in which we are more interconnected. This Planetary Civilization would be on a different level in its processing of Information and its use of Energy. It would be a grade upward which would prepare us for our ventures outside the Planet.
Kaku argues that we have the power to create a scientifically literate, democratic civilization in which we have become 'masters of nature able to move objects with our minds, controlling life and death, and reaching for the stars.'
In speaking of SETI and our search for extraterrestial civilizations Kaku provides a calming note. He says that the chaos pictured in popular culture by our receiving a signal from an extraterrestial source is exaggerated. He claims that the civilization may 'not even know we are eavesdropping on their conversations.' He says that even if we did conversations between us be extremely difficult to conduct. It could take years to decode any message . Primarily however it is the great distance between us which will prevent real conversation. We will be able to observe them, but not really converse with them.
Kaku also sounds a discouraging word on the possibility of a large human presence in space by 2100. He outlines the history of human efforts to this point, and also indicates how much more taxing living in non- terrestial gravity situations is than was previously thought. He does mention self- replicating Neumann robots as a way of probing deep space but he does not seem truly hopeful about the human place in space.And this when he does make a detailed discussion of various ways of traveling in space.
On another front the Medical he provides a list of improvements which will be made by 2100. We will live longer and be far healthier . We will not however succeeded in curing every illness as new ones will undoubtedly arise. It is likely that certain forms of Cancer will still be with us. But there will be major innovations including robot physicians who will be able to take care of the great majority of ordinary medical problems. People will certainly live longer and healthier and there will be techniques of diagnosis which will prevent the development of illness in ways we cannot do now.
The chapter on Artificial Intelligence is a fascinating one. Kaku provides an interesting discussion of the Singularity. He speaks about the question of whether and when Artificial intelligences will surpass human intelligence. He discusses possibilities in which there will be blending of elements of artificial intelligence into the human. He also talks about measures for insuring that the Robots of the Future will not rebel and do away with their human makers. He does a good job in this chapter of outlining the possibilities without definitely deciding which he believes will become the reality.
All in all in this chapter and in the book throughout Kaku
raises the possibilities but does not dispel uncertainties. It is only those who get there who will know what 2100 will be like.
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