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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon September 24, 2008
Will something that is impossible now eventually become possible? In order to answer this question, the author has divided various potentially outrageous ideas into three levels of impossibility, based on current and expected future technological capabilities and the known laws of physics: Class I impossibilities, occupying over 60% of the book, Class II impossibilities and Class III impossibilities. The higher the class level, the more impossible (or farther in the future) the possible realization of the idea is perceived to be. In progressing along these classes, the author goes from practical nuts-and-bolts solutions to various problems that may be possible in a matter of decades to centuries (Type I), to dreams whose realizations may never happen according current very abstract ideas that are at the very forefront of scientific thinking and thus very far removed from our everyday experience (Type III). The writing style is clear, friendly, authoritative and quite engaging. The book contains no diagrams whatsoever. In most cases, they are not really essential because of the author's excellent ability to express complex ideas into clearly understandable prose. However, in a few cases, diagrams would have been quite welcome. Technical terms are clearly explained as they occur so that anyone could read this book and learn a great deal from it. However, science buffs would probably appreciate it the most.

On a more technical note, on a couple of occasions the author has pointed out that when an electron and an antielectron (positron) meet, they annihilate producing "gamma rays at an energy of 1.02 million electron volts or more" (p. 184) and "annihilate one another and create a gamma ray" (p. 278). The first statement can be misleading while the second one is incorrect and is likely a misprint. When an electron and a positron meet in free space, they annihilate producing two gamma rays (not one) of energy 0.511 million electron volts each (or more, depending on their relative kinetic energies when they meet); the total gamma ray energy released being (at least) 1.02 million electron volts. Production of two gamma rays is essential to conserve momentum, i.e., total momentum before the collision must equal total momentum after the collision, which is impossible if only one annihilation gamma ray is produced.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." -- 1 John 4:1

If books about physics had been this entertaining when I was a child, I'm sure I would have become a theoretical physicist. Professor Michio Kaku begins with ancient beliefs about gods, moves on to science fiction, proceeds through theories proven false, and examines some of the most interesting questions and devices raised by science fiction stories to describe when, if ever, we might see such results. In all but a few cases, he sees hope.

Talk about a ray of sunshine . . . this is a profoundly optimistic book that looks realistically at our geometrically increasing rate of learning how to measure and solve problems about the fundamental characteristics of the universe such as matter, energy, time, gravity, and the universe's origins. I loved it!

If I had a choice between reading this kind of book and even the best science fiction, I would pick this one. Why? Because it helps point the way toward the important questions and the value of answering them. I miss this in most science writing.

Most science writing, by contrast, is either trying to prove too much about current theories or is of little interest to people outside the particular field.

Professor Kaku puts various concepts into one of three bins:

1. Likely to be accomplished or understood in the next 100 years.

2. Likely to be accomplished or understood only after millions of years.

3. Apparently impossible, no matter how much we learn.

Interestingly, he puts a lot of items in the first category including:

Force Fields
Energy Beam Weapons (Phasers and Death Stars)
Intelligent Robots
Extraterrestrials and UFOs
Antimatter and Anti-universes

In those discussions, you'll learn about fascinating experiments where the seemingly "impossible" has already been done and promises the potential for even more remarkable accomplishments in the future.

More challenging problems await us for learning to travel faster than light, traveling through time, and exploring parallel universes.

Perpetual motion machines and precognition (which most people believe in) are ruled out.

As I read the book, I was fascinated to realize how much different it would have read if written 50, 40, 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. It made me wonder how such a book will read in 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years in the future.

Imagine a more limitless future!
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First and foremost I want to applaud Michio Kaku for not only this publication but for all of his other writings. He has the unique ability to take the complex world of Physics and tell it to us in a readable and understanding manner. Most physicists cannot or refuse to see the world through the eyes of its readers and by doing so leave us with conclusions that are muddled and/or false. While Mr. Kaku has never made a notable scientific break through, his relation of Physical principles to a non-scientific public is a break through in itself. Furthermore, I fully enjoy his television appearances and hope he continues with this endeavor.

There is, however, two notes of concern that I have with this particular text.

First is the factor that 80% of the research projects that are referred to in this book obtain their funding through the Department of Defense. Is this what our world of experimental science come down to? Has the human need for understanding the unknown developed into a mere secondary concern to building a bigger bomb or having the complete annialation of our 'enemies' in 3 easy steps? If such is the case is it no wonder that the cures for cancer, MLS and AIDS are still being 'worked on' while the stealth bomber has been in operation for nearly two decades.

My second concern lies less with Mr. Kaku and more with the field of Physics itself. While making the observation that other studies that lie outside their purvue have little or no impact on the overall search for reality, their refusal to examine the thrust of these studies may be blocking us from seeing reality for what it actually is. Areas such as spirituality, meta-Physics, consciousness, the akashic field, etc... are areas that lie outside of Physics demand for a cause - effect principles. But by being as such, may not make the conclusions from these other studies wrong nor inaccurate. It may simply make them unmeasurable according to Physic's principles. In conclusion, no area of study can ever develop the completely accurate view of reality if they refuse to look at all the results from other equally dedicated professionals. The Catholic Church did this for an extended period of time. That time period was called The Dark Ages.
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on November 16, 2010
Michio Kaku covers various forms of technology seen or read about in Science Fiction, and discusses the possible physical theories behind them and when we may be able to achieve such technology.

Although this book is speculative (as expected based on its subject matter) it also discusses the physical theories involved in a highly entertaining, approachable, and informative manner, including both the history behind the various sci-fi concepts and recent discoveries and experiments in Physics.

A very enjoyable read for any science fiction fan, or for anyone interested in science.
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on June 12, 2009
I keep this book on my night table for daily inspiration. It helps me constantly realize the need to stretch the imagination and keep an open mind on anything that might be taken as dogma in Physics. I also inspires me to think of the possibilities that may exist in the fabric of our cosmos.
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on June 3, 2011
The subject of this book is very good for anybody that like science-fiction. It is well explained, even if it is hard sometimes. I like the imagination as well as the scientific reasoning of Michio Kaku. Enjoy!
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on April 27, 2014
If you are curious and want to understand the impossible, this book is it! Very informative, very well written and structured book. Great read.
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on November 5, 2015
Excellent book that makes you think.
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on June 7, 2015
I love Kaku!
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on May 8, 2015
Great read.
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