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The Impossible is Merely Preposterous
on November 10, 2008
Michio Kaku has a strong literary record as a Sagan-like popularizer of the deepest science, with a true concern for the knowledge of the masses. Kaku's previous books (especially "Hyperspace") are imminently readable treasures for the physics enthusiast who doesn't hold multiple PhD's. But unfortunately, this latest book is not very well written and mostly recycles material that has been presented better elsewhere. Here Kaku builds mostly from fanciful science fiction gadgets and processes like time travel, wormholes, telepathy, and even perpetual motion machines. Many of these amazing things might just be possible in the future - either the near future or the extremely far future - and Kaku delivers on the laws of physics that would have to be conquered (or even altered) for some of these "impossibilities" to see the light of day.
But the book is awkwardly paced, with Kaku often going off on tangents into obscure areas of academia that I suspect need a popular author to drum up funding, such as research into gravitational waves or the construction of immense super-colliders. And after drifting into such esoteric realms, Kaku tends to return abruptly to pop sci-fi gadgets and quick pronouncements on whether or not they're possible. One perplexing example is a wide detour into the bizarre realm of tachyons that derails an initially straightforward chapter on precognition. Kaku's pop culture coverage is also fractured and arbitrary, at least as presented here, which can be seen in the chapters on extraterrestrials/UFOs and robots. Another problem is an inconsistent attitude toward the possibility of new discoveries about the laws of the universe. On several occasions Kaku points out incorrect pronouncements on this matter from old closed-minded scientists, but can't always avoid making the same mistake himself when speaking of present-day breakthroughs.
Granted, this is still a mostly interesting book, but Kaku is not entirely successful in combining cutting-edge knowledge with often cheesy or outdated science fiction fantasies. This leads to some awkward writing and pacing that are not up to Kaku's usual standards. [~doomsdayer520~]