The most recent book that I have read is “Physics of the Impossible” written by Michio Kaku. It seems like the author doesn’t know the meaning of the word “impossible”, or rather, to be slightly more accurate, he has redefined the term to enable him realistically to examine and predict the future of science and technologies, from teleportation and time travel to robots and starships.
Michio Kaku is an esteemed theoretical physicist and one of the world’s leading authorities on string theory (essentially an attempt to discover a “theory of everything” combining all of the known physical forces), and he also specialises in future science, having presented several television programmes on the topic. Kaku is well placed to try to imagine what developments might possibly occur in the fields of science and technology over the coming years, centuries, millennia and aeons.
Handily, for those of us not familiar with the process of speculating on the future of physics, he’s split his impossibilities into three categories. Class I impossibilities are technologies which are impossible today, but don’t violate the known laws of physics. Kaku reckons that these impossibilities – including things such as teleportation and psychokinesis – might be possible in sometime within the next couple of hundred years.
Class II impossibilities such as time machines and hyperspace travel are at the very edge of our scientific understanding, and may take millions of years to become possible. And the trickiest of all, Class III impossibilities, are technologies which break the laws of physics as we know them. Surprisingly, there are very few of these, and Kaku only examines two, perpetual motion machines and precognition (seeing into the future).
This book takes a serious look at the science behind all the crazy futuristic ideas that have been showing up in science fiction over the years. Indeed, there are so many references to Star Trek and Star Wars scattered throughout this book, that you sometimes wonder if physicists just spend all their time watching old sci-fi re-runs and trying to work out how to recreate the technologies included in them. In some sense, this is an intriguing vision of our possible development over the forthcoming millennia, but at the same time it’s also frustrating.
After reading Kaku’s boundless enthusiasm for the future, what i wouldn’t give for a real-life time machine to travel forwards and see just how accurate his predictions are. I enjoyed how Kaku presented his cases in terms of recent scientific and technological developments where possible, and for the most part he was a clear and engaging writer, able to explain some mind-boggling physics concepts in terms which are fairly easy to grasp, especially when dealing with his Class I impossibilities in the earlier chapters.
As the book progresses into more and more speculative territory, he is forced to rely less on using current research and development, and more on purely theoretical physics. After all that I can say that the book noticeably expanded my vocabulary and gave me some insight on just what can we expect from the future. I will defiantly try reading some other books by this author in my foreseeable future.