Customer Reviews: Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
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VINE VOICEon April 3, 2008
Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, force Fields, Teleportation, and time Travel is just the right book at the right time. In fact, Michio Kaku's sytle reminds me just a bit like Carl Sagan in that he tries to make scientifically difficult topic easy to understand. Kaku's mission here is to spread knowledge and that he does very well.

There are other books similar to Physics of the Impossible. Some have been mentioned by other reviewers. I'd like to mention The Science of Star Wars by Jeanne Cavelus and The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss and Stephen Hawking. Like Physics of the Impossible, both of these works attempt to apply hard scientific facts-of-life to popular ideas in modern fiction. What Kaku does is to organize his ideas into classes of impossibility and here lies an important element of this book.

Michio Kaku is a born communicator which is why he is so often seen on television and why his books are so popular. He is at his best, in my opinion, in Physics of the Impossible. Well written by an author that knows his material and wants to communicate his ideas, the book is sure to please and inform and stimulate the imagination.

I highly recommend Physics of the Impossible.
Peace to all.
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on March 31, 2008
This is probably Dr. Kaku's best popular work since Hyperspace or Visions. Here is a wide range of scientific possibilities to be explored. Dr. Kaku's gift is to make modern physics comprehensible to those of us without a mathematical background. In this book he uses his gift to explain how the standard model and string field theory (which he is coauthor of) can be applied to contemplation of some of our most wildest scifi dreams. The chapters are short and easily read in short sittings, which lends well to a book that stretches the imagination so dramaticaly. Dr. Kaku is also careful to remain objective in discussing different theoretical approaches which is an admirable feat given some of the topics ventured into in this book. If you enjoy cutting edge science, it doesn't get more cutting edge then this. Thank you Dr. Kaku for yet another wonderful journey.
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on April 24, 2008
I've been a big fan of Dr. Kaku since I first saw him on The Science Channel years ago, but this is the first book of his I've read.

In "The Physics of the Impossible," Michio Kaku explores the very subjects that fuels the imagination of those who love science fiction because of the possibilities it raises. Is Time Travel possible? What about Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Light Sabers? Could one really build a Death Star?

One of the great things about Dr. Kaku's approach is that he does not talk down to the lay person, but he writes just as he speaks, with a simple eloquence that makes these complex concepts accessible to the non-Physicist mind. And it is always clear just how much passion Dr. Kaku has for his work, and he easily passes that on to his audience through his words.

Another great thing about this book is that it's not only an education on the concepts of such things as String Theory and so much more, it's also an exploration of the history behind moderm Physics, dating back to the days of Isaac Newton and beyond. I learned so much about the triumphs, and even more surprising, the tragedies befalling many of the pioneers of modern science merely because they were people with concepts far ahead of their times.

I have to say that if you are a young physicist in the making, an older person who is simply fascinated in the subject of Science, a Science Fiction writer looking for deeper understanding of these subjects to inspire you in your writing, or just someone wanting to get better insight into the mysteries behind the nature of the universe, then this is definitely the book for you.

- Gregory Bernard Banks, author, reader, reviewer
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HALL OF FAMEon 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~]
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VINE VOICEon March 22, 2008
I think the biggest reason some people reject evolution is a lack of imagination. It's difficult for humans to picture the vast amount of time it takes for organisms to evolve. To speculate on the many mysteries of science takes a vivid imagination. Fortunately, author Michio Kaku has one. He brings a bright-eyed, gee-whiz sense of wonder to his subject, and his writing makes it contagious.

Kaku's passion is the impossible, and in this book he explores different kinds of impossibilities. Class I ideas -- -- force fields, invisibility, phasers and death stars, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots, extraterrestrials and UFOs, starships, antimatter and anti-universes -- could come true within a hundred years. Class II impossibilities, such as travel faster than light, time travel and parallel universes, may be possible in the next millennium. Class III ideas, like perpetual motion machines and precognition, may never be possible, given the underlying science.

As Kaku explores his subjects, he uses references anyone can understand: Star Trek,Back to the Future,The Wizard of Oz,Flash Gordon,Men in Black. The result is an imminently readable physics primer.

I hesitated to use the phrase "physics primer" in that last paragraph, because it might scare off people who would actually find this book fascinating. The truth is, this is nothing like that dry science book you remember from school. It entertains, educates and inspires.
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on May 29, 2008
As he did in "Visions," "Hyperspace," and "Beyond Einstein," Professor Michio Kaku has again penned a gem. Eminently readable, and as always packed full of related facts, this logically guided but wide-eyed romp across the terrain of the impossible, near-impossible and the far-fetched impossible, contains a veritable boutique of novel and leading-edge ideas.

But that is not all. He also explains the history and the science involved and why they will work in the short, medium, or long term, or not at all.

The book is conveniently divided into three equally impressive sections: Section one deals with what the author calls class I impossibilities. These include technologies that are impossible today, but since they do not violate any of the known laws of physics, could become possible in the short term. Included in this family are teleportation, antimatter engines, certain forms of telepathy, psychokinesis, and invisibility.

Section II deals with Class II Impossibilities. This section deals with technologies that sit at the very edge of what we know: things such as time machines, and time travel, including through wormholes. Finally, Section III deals with Class III or long-term impossibilities. In this group are technologies that DO violate the known laws of physics, and thus would require fundamental shifts in our understanding of physics for them to become possible. Included in this group are precognition and perpetual motion machines.

What is most striking about the guarded speculation and related tales in the book is how relative impossibility really is, and how so many of the technologies thought to be impossible in the past have actually not only become "possible," but exists as useful conveniences today.

Professor Kaku, in addition to being a superb Scientist, is also a good storyteller. This a deliciously fine intellectual feast and quick read. Five Stars.
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on April 15, 2008
Being a Dr Kaku fan and enjoying nothing better than to listen to him on late-night radio or read his books, this book did not disappoint. I plan to purchase another copy for my son.

I own and have read all of his general science books and this one continues a impressive track record. I rated this book a four instead of five because I felt it wasn't quite as good as his other general science books. I do have an issue with some of the reviews that critique this book after only 30 minutes of skimming -- that is a vast injustice. Some reviews also critique it because they have seen attempts at explaining the physics of Star Wars/Star Trek elsewhere. I have not read those other attempts but believe this book would be ideal to use in a discussion group of teenage or older students to excite and motivate them for further studies -- maybe they would imitiate Dr Kaku himself and build cloud chambers and colliders for science fairs while in high school. Some of his topics always cause a stir of interest like inter-stellar travel, multi-verse universe, quantum physics, time travel and the like.

I like the way, Dr Kaku divides the various perceived impossibilities into three classes and discusses the revelant science and scientists involved. His writing style is easy to follow and the way he describes/explains things makes him a Carl Sagan-type spokesman for this time. You can not go wrong with buying this book and reading it -- don't skim or you will be only cheating yourself.
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on July 15, 2008
Ok, I will admit it: I'm no Einstein; not even close. And while I am fascinated about the arcane science of quantum physics, I still get puzzled by concepts such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal and all its implications. Michio Kaku does better than most in trying to explain such weird things to idiots like me (although I haven't checked out Physics for Dummies yet). And when as a physicist he applies what he knows to the various impossibilities he covers in his book, it seems clear that there is far more that we don't know. When he talks in the timeframe of centuries and millennia before we might be able to do some of these physically not impossible things, given how much we don't know, I am left wondering just how much theoretical physics in it's infancy really differs from religion (even magic) in defining epistemology.

I thought this a fun and exciting read given that it gives hope to a lot of us SF nerds that one day everything in Star Trek will come true. I would have liked to see some drawings to help better visualize some of the concepts, but for the most part I could follow his verbal explanations. I did feel that on some things in which Mr. Kaku was not a subject matter expert (mainly some of the paranormal stuff) he did not do justice to the scientific body of research out there on the subject, often resorting to the Amazing Randi and Skeptical Inquirer folks to back up claims of phenomenon disproved. Aside from that, it was a quick and enjoyable read.
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on May 20, 2008
Very good book for inquiring minds. Dr. Kaku is a genius and does a great job of making this book easy enough to understand but not too simplistic. Nice balance for those who have a curiosity about such things but not a background in physics.
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on May 13, 2008
Kaku presents the daunting advanced concepts of physics to readers in an enjoyable journey through the possibilities of force fields, ray guns, Star Wars force abilities (through psychokinesis), time travel, and much more. The greatest strength of this book is the presentation of recent breakthroughs such as the seemingly invisible "metamaterials" that disappear under a specific frequency of light, or the series of breakthroughs that can be achieved with the possible discovery of room-temperature superconductors. Kaku is an appealing master storyteller (as seen in his appearances on The Universe series on the History Channel) and Physics of the Impossible is a wonderful book offering much food for thought.
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