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The Physics of Star Trek Revised Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465002047
ISBN-10: 0465002048
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sure, we all know Star Trek is fiction, but warp drives and transporters and holodecks don't seem altogether implausible. Are any of these futuristic inventions fundamentally outlawed by physics as we understand it today? The Physics of Star Trek takes a lighthearted look at this subject, speculating on how the wonders of Star Trek technology might actually work--and, in some cases, revealing why the inventions are impossible or impractical even for an advanced civilization. (Example: "dematerializing" a person for transport would require about as much energy as is released by a 100-megaton hydrogen bomb). The Physics of Star Trek deserves merit for providing a refresher course on topics such as relativity and antimatter, but let's face it: the reason most people will want to read this book is simply that it's fun to poke holes in the premises of their favorite science fiction shows! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Even those who have never watched an episode of Star Trek will be entertained and enlightened by theoretical physicist Krauss's adventurous investigation of interstellar flight, time travel, teleportation of objects and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Case Western Reserve professor Krauss maintains that Star Trek's writers were sometimes far ahead of scientists?and famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking's foreword, endorsing the possibilities of faster-than-light travel and journeying back in time, supports that notion. On the other hand, Krauss also argues that the show is riddled with bloopers and huge improbabilities, as when the Voyager's crew escapes from a black hole's interior. This informal manual for Trekkers offers a porthole on the wonders of the universe as it ponders the potential existence of aliens, "wormholes" that allow astronauts to tunnel through space, other dimensions and myriad baby universes. $75,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB alternates; Astronomy Book Club dual main selection; Library of Science, Natural Science Book Club and Newbridge Computer Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Revised edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002047
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Did you know that many of the world's best physicists like to watch Star Trek, and then discuss what's right and wrong about the science displayed? Well, apparently they do.
Drawing on contacts within the scientific community and on-line bulletin boards, Professor Krauss has written a sprightly review of what physicists think about when they see these shows. He translates these observations into simple concepts that the average reader should be able to follow, assuming an interest in Star Trek or science.
As a non-scientist, I had always assumed that 70 percent of the "science" on a Star Trek show was just so much imagination. The reason I thought that was because I could see so many obvious errors (seeing phaser light in space, hearing sounds in space, effects occurring too soon on the space ship, holograms acting like they were made of matter, and permanent worm holes) based on what little I knew. Was I ever surprised to find out that these obvious errors were the bulk of all the errors in the shows!
Apparently the writers have been working closely with scientifically knowledgeable people to keep what is covered reasonably possible . . . along with some poetic license.
The physics of cosmology are fascinating, but I can quickly get lost in matching quantum mechanics to general relativity and so forth. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that I could follow the arguments much better when they used a familiar Star Trek episode as a reference. Like the child who learns math when it involves counting his or her own money, I can learn physics more easily when it relates to Star Trek. Very nice!
The book takes a look at the common Star Trek features like warp drive, transporters, replicators, phasers, sensors, subspace communications, and tractor beams.
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Format: Hardcover
As both a Star Trek (old series) fan and popular science reader, I was greatly intrigued to see Lawrence Krauss' The Physics of Star Trek at my local bookstore. Often disappointed by past efforts to connect to the bandwagon of popular culture, I was delighted at how learned, clear, yet sprightly Krauss' short book was. In the first part, Krauss attempts nothing less than an explanation of Newtonian physics, general and special relativity, and other physics concepts to explain warp drives, tractor beams, wormholes, and other Star Trek staples that -- under the laws of physics as we now understand them -- are probably impossible. Subsequent chapters address and deconstruct the transporter beam, warp drive, etc. The clarity and humor of Krauss' writing is just wonderful. Perhaps the most amusing chapter is the last, in which Krauss lists his "top ten" Star Trek scientific bloopers -- events, plot devices, and the like that just could not occur. Because he is a trekker, Krauss does not treat these foibles with contempt or ridicule; as a scientist and writer, he ably outlines those errors.
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By A Customer on January 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
As I looked through my local bookstore for an interesting read, I could not help but notice this interesting title in the Physics science section. Being a sporatic viewer of Star Trek myself, I picked it up for a closer look. As I read the first section of the book, I realized that it was more than blatant critique on scientific errors. Rather, it was an interesting view of future possibilities and also impossibilities in the field of science. In this book, Krauss explores the existence of things such as wormholes, black holes, and existence of other intelligent life in space. Krauss is also relentless in his discussion of Einstein and other renowned Physicists. He often writes about highly esoteric subject matter, but on the whole this book is well rounded and a relatively interesting read. However, keep in mind that one must have an interest in science, specifically fields such as quantum mechanics and relativity.
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By T. Hooper on December 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Lawrence Krauss examines the technology of the Star Trek universe and discusses whether such technology is possible or not according to physics as we know it today. As it turns out, most of the technology is either impossible or improbable when considering the laws of physics. For example, to use warp drive or impulse drive, it would take more energy than the entire planet uses at present. Another example, which would probably be impossible, is the transporter. Krauss raises the issue of whether the transporter transmits the matter or just the information of a person. If it transmits the matter, there is the problem of scanning, storing, and transmitting the data of the location of each molecule,--a feat that would take an astronomical amount of calculating power. If it only transmits the data, then the transporter is effectively a human replicator. If that is the case, what do they do with the original body? Also it raises a lot of ethical issues as well.

I really recommend this for those fans of Star Trek who are interested in finding out if the science in the Star Trek world is feasible or not. It's very easy to read and very entertaining too. Check it out.
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Format: Paperback
I never took biology or chemistry let alone physics in school, so I am easily intimidated by big words with Latin prefixes and Greek suffixes that explain the mysteries of the real world let alone the Star Trek universe. Lawrence M. Krauss, Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy and Chairman of the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University might be making stuff up the same was as Gene Roddenberry and his heirs, but he sure makes a compelling case that is easily understood even by scientific illiterates such as myself. He certainly has the credentials, even if he spells his first name funny.
This book takes nitpicking about Star Trek to a whole new level, and I mean that in the best sense of the world. "The Physics of Star Trek" is divided into three sections. The first, "A Cosmic Poker Game," explores the physics of inertial dampers and tractor beams as they apply to warp speed, deflector shields, wormholes and time travel (The short answer is "No, but...," which is where it gets fascinating). The second, "Matter Matter Everywhere," covers transporter beams, warp drives, dilithium crystals, matter-antimatter engines, and the holodeck (see above short answer). The third, "The Invisible Universe, or Things That Go Bump in the Night," looks at the great unknown of the future where we may (or may not) encounter alien beings, multiple dimensions and other fun thinks from the Star Trek universe. There are nice diagrams to help the explanations along, filing in for Krauss' classroom chalkboard. Krauss also proves he is not alone in his major league nitpicking as he includes a Top Ten Physics Bloopers and Blunders from Star Trek that were selected by Noble Prize-winning physicists and other Trekkers.
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