Physics of the Impossible, by Michio Kaku

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on August 21, 2009

Physics of the Impossible
A scientific exploration into the world of phasers, force fields, teleportation and time travel. By Michio Kaku


Arthur C. Clarke famously opined, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Perhaps that’s true to most of us, but not to renowned physicist Michio Kaku. Instead, he examines the feats of technology mostly found only in the pages of science fiction, and categorizes them into three distinct categories, or classes of possibility

Class I impossibilities are technologies not currently available, but might be possible within the next century or so. Class II impossibilities might be possible in thousands to millions of years. Class III impossibilities are those that violate the laws of physics (at least as we presently understand them).

It is with this optimistic matrix (sorry) that Dr. Kaku clearly and entertainingly presents technologies such as teleportation and invisibility (both of which, he claims, may be attainable within the next century or two), time machines and hyperspace travel. We examine the physical challenges to achieving these technologies along with learned speculation on how they might be overcome. Along the way, we’re treated to fascinating essays on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, parallel universes, the evolution of artificial intelligence, the implications of string theory and more tantalizing ideas.

Millions of people enjoy science fiction literature and films, but for those with a functional understanding of science and the physical world, such entertainment requires a strong-willed suspension of disbelief–it’s largely regarded as fantasy. But it’s good to remember that less than one hundred years ago, such technologies as space travel and instantaneous global communication were considered fantasy, and no one even envisioned lasers and microprocessors. Physics of the Impossible shows us that what we today view as fantastic may very well–sooner than later–become the familiar.

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