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Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons Paperback – May 17, 2001


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Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons + Sex, Drugs, Einstein & Elves: Sushi, Psychedelics, Parallel Universes and the Quest for Transcendence + Time: A Traveler's Guide
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195142411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195142419
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Clifford Pickover is IBM's Renaissance-guy-in-residence. His job is to play with cool ideas--time travel (Time: A Traveler's Guide), extraterrestrials (The Science of Aliens), and the line between genius and crackpot (Strange Brains and Genius). His latest game is an oldie but goodie: trying to imagine the fourth dimension.

Like a number of his other books, Surfing is structured as a fiction, in this case an X-Files romance--Pickover clearly has a deep and personal appreciation for Scully (whom he calls "Sally," presumably on advice of counsel). You, dear reader, are the FBI's chief investigator of four-dimensional phenomena. As you and your cohorts chase bizarre manifestations from "upsilon" (4-D up) and "delta" (4-D down), Pickover provides explanations, paradoxes, and problems, with many helpful drawings and computer-generated illustrations.

Pickover's book, like every work on higher dimensions, is something of a sequel to Edwin Abbott's classic story, Flatland. Like Abbott, Pickover doesn't just look at the mathematics: "I want to know if humankind's Gods could exist in the fourth dimension." Not for the theologically squeamish, this book is lively, provocative, outrageous, and fascinating. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Hyperbeings have kidnapped the president! Prolific Discover magazine columnist Pickover (Time: A Traveler's Guide, etc.) alternates expositions of math, physics and geometry with episodes of instructional science fiction while showing interested amateurs the mathematical and physical properties of higher spatial dimensions. Familiar analogies from Edwin Abbott's classic Flatland link up with odder ones from Baha'i and Christian scripture, The X-Files and the superstring theories of modern cosmologists, as Pickover explains how to trap a 4-D organism or why one twirl through a fourth dimension could turn you into your mirror image. Pickover's usual whimsy is in full force here, as he focuses on what four-dimensional organisms could (or do) look like to us: 4-D lifeforms, he explains, could make any 3-D object vanish (or reappear) by lifting it out of (or dropping it back into) our 3-D space. And 4-D creatures with anatomies analogous to ours would probably look, from our limited perspective, like sets of floating, unconnected flesh blobs. In the book's science fictional sections, "you" (a Mulder-esque FBI agent) team up with a skeptic named Sally to investigate mysterious hyperbeings. These second-person adventures seem aimed at young readers, though they don't get in the way of the more sophisticated ideas. Several substantial appendices describe puzzles and games related to hyperspace, while others explain related topics (like the mathematical entities called quaternions) or suggest further reading. Line drawings throughout. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

From my publisher:

Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over 30 books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, religion, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, and science fiction.

Pickover is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, is the associate editor for several journals, the author of colorful puzzle calendars, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults.

WIRED magazine writes, "Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." According to The Los Angeles Times, "Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art and thought."
The Christian Science Monitor writes, "Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." Pickover's computer graphics have been featured on the cover of many popular magazines and on TV shows.

His web site, Pickover.Com, has received millions of visits. His Blog RealityCarnival.Com is one of his most popular sites.

Customer Reviews

I enjoyed this book immensely.
Arlen L. Card
Who could resist a book with such chapter titles as; The Divinity of Higher Dimensions, Satan and Perpendicular Worlds and The Gods of Hyperspace.
Brian E. Erland
At some points in the book I felt that the author was just repeating the same information in different words over and over again.
Megan Elizabeth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Tatsuo Tabata on September 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The four-dimensional world treated in this book is not the space-time of the theory of relativity, but the world with a fourth spatial direction different from all the directions of our normal three-dimensional space. A number of books on the fourth dimension had already been published. So, why did Pickover, an IBM researcher who published many popular books, write this book? He gives an answer in the preface: The main purpose of the book is to tell the reader the physical appearance of four-dimensional beings, what they can do in our world, and the religious implications of their penetration into our world, with a few simple formulas and computer programs to aid the understanding of the four- and more-dimensional spaces (those who are not interested in computing can easily skip them).
The author presents an SF story, in which an FBI agent, "you," gives personal lectures on hyperspace to his younger fellow agent Sally. Finally they both experience surfing into a four-dimensional world. Meanwhile the reader learns concepts and terms such as "hyperspheres," "tesseracts," "enantiomorphic," "extrinsic geometry," "quaternions," "nonorientable surfaces," etc. The author succeeds in achieving his aim rather well by the use of many illustrations and computer graphics, though he cites too much from Edwin Abbott's "Flatland" in early chapters and from Karl Heim's "Christian Faith and Natural Science" in later chapters.
The book has nine Appendixes (one is a list of SF stories and novels about the fourth dimension), "Notes" and "Further Readings" sections, and Addendum about recent publications dealing with parallel universes and cosmic topology. These are also interesting and informative.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Most people are not ready or willing to accept the idea of a fourth dimension, but, Pickover seems to actually live there a few months out of the year. He steps back into our realm only long enough to create another volume to help the rest of us understand the higher universes he's been traversing. Hyperspace is very thoughtfully researched and written with such talent the world has not seen before and may not see again. It contains just the right amount of imagination without being too speculative. Just enough science without being bogged down with math, and a story to help you understand where he wants to go without resorting to "technobabble". All of the visual ideas are accompanied by simple, easy to digest illustrations. I seriosly recommend this and any other Pickover books that enter your range of interest. I promise you will not be wasting your time or money and you will come away from your experience wiser and able to see the world in a wonderful new way.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on June 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Queen Victoria almost certainly would have been amused if she had thought to pick up a copy of Edwin Abbott's inventive story "Flatland" when it was first published in 1884. But it's unlikely that she would be amused at the degree to which Pickover has chosen to rehash all of the same ideas - and, not just once, but seeking to dress the same material up as different chapters over and over again. My goodness, there are only so many ways that one can say a three dimensional sphere projects as a circle in two dimensions. Therefore, a four dimensional hypershpere projects into three dimensions as a sphere. OK, OK - I got it the first time!

It's bad enough that Surfing Through Hyperspace barely rises above plagiarism. But Pickover has tried to tart the presentation up with a bizarre, pretentious narration that is also a simple rip off from Scully and Mulder of X-Files fame! This silly repetitious presentation borders on insulting to any intelligent reader who, after reading a couple or three chapters, will realize they would have been better off going to the store to buy the original item - Flatland.

Any other material that is beyond Flatland - wormholes, Many Worlds Theory, quantum mechanics and superluminal contact, to name a few examples - are explained more completely and more clearly in any number of other sources. I did briefly get excited when one chapter headed down a road that looked really promising - multidimensional variations on games like chess and monopoly; knights that weren't allowed to effectively jump into the 3rd dimension by leaping over men on the board; 3-D chess play inside an 8x8 cube; a chess board on a Möbius strip. Then Pickover pulled the ultimate cop out - "We leave exploration of these interesting variations as an exercise to the reader.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
You will nod with approval over this entertaining romp through the scientific and speculative world of higher (and lower!) dimensions. Written in Pickover's intensely engaging style, you will feel as though you've actually experienced the Fourth Dimension and other spacious realms.
You'll feel like you're in the midst of the action as X-Files-like FBI agents ask the same questions the reader would ask about how other dimensional beings would look. The witty text is highlighted with original photos, cartoons and graphics to aid the reader in visualizing these unseen dimensions. Surfing Through Hyperspace is a "must read" for everyone whose imagination seeks to exceed the boundaries of our 3-D space. You will even grow an extra brain!
April Pedersen
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