5.0 out of 5 stars very entertaining and educational
As a Star Trek fan with a limited background in the sciences I found this book extremely helpful in describing the science in Star Trek. It was a nice easy read. I would highly recommend it to people who are interested in Star Trek and curious about its science. To those without a background in the sciences, especially physics, don't be frightened off! The book is easy to...
Published on April 22 2004 by Living in Budapest
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, with a misleading title
Although the title suggests otherwise, this is not really a book about Star Trek. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist, quotes Star Trek, but his further explanations largely neglect what can be seen in the series and, rather than that, strictly adhere to the laws of real physics. This alone is no criticism. We need popular books about physics (and this is a good one), but the...
Published on Nov. 28 2001 by Bernd Schneider
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5.0 out of 5 stars very entertaining and educational,
As a Star Trek fan with a limited background in the sciences I found this book extremely helpful in describing the science in Star Trek. It was a nice easy read. I would highly recommend it to people who are interested in Star Trek and curious about its science. To those without a background in the sciences, especially physics, don't be frightened off! The book is easy to understand.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea but limited vision,
This volume by Lawrence Krauss is a physicists' exploration of the scientific feasibility of "Star Trek science". As a student of science myself and a Star Trek fan for many years, I was intrigued by this book. Apart from drawing attention to curious inconsistencies (such as "how come we hear explosions in space, where there's no air to carry the sound?") this book addresses a wide range of issues, such as WARP drive, transporters, the Holodeck, Black Holes, and Data, among other things.
What this turned out to be is a nice and easily accessible introduction to modern day physics using Star Trek as a model. Overall the book is very interesting to read and often thought-provoking. Unfortunately, the book suffers from a significant limitation because of its attitude. The "Physics of Star Trek" tests the feasibility of Star Trek phenomena based on our understanding of physics today. Thus many things are deemed "impossible" because the author cannot visualize a way to make them work using 20th century science. The problem with this attitude is that it lacks vision. Had he been writing with this attitude in the 1940s for instance, he would have discounted any possibilities of having any automated thinking machines and dismissed any aspect of the computerized world that we enjoy and take for granted today. The beauty of Star Trek is that it is visionary in nature, and a fair analysis of the show needs to make some educated guesses about what the science of the future will look like and not merely confine thinking to the science of today.
Having said that, I do concede that this book is a very nice, fun to read, and interesting introduction to the science of today, and I highly recommend it to any Trek fan interested in real science!
4.0 out of 5 stars Plausibility,
By A Customer
This text is very enlightening for the Star Trek viewer. It gives technical answers to questions concerning warp, transporters, worm holes and other technology and phenomena that do not have the opportunity to be addressed on camera. Despite some deviations in the series, this text offers more plausible explanations for the inner workings of the Star Trek multi-verse.
4.0 out of 5 stars good gimmick,
I'm sure some 'true blue' Star Trek fans will be disappointed that this book doesn't agree with all the 'science' used in Star Trek. Actually 'Star Trek' is only used as a jumping off point to talk about physics and possible advances of physics in the future. It also presents the other side, and will give the scientific reasons that some form of Star Trek technology (such as transporters) will probably never be possible. I thought the explanation of various scientific principles (usually related to something in Star Trek) were done well without being either condenscending or obtuse. I was actually surprised that the author (apparently a Start Trek fan) found that, for the most part, the scientific concepts used in Start Trek were generally more accurate than the usual SF TV show or movie. Usually the science in these shows is pretty bad. It appears that the Star Trek technical advisors have been doing their homework. I recommend this book to those interested in science and physics and are also familiar with Star Trek. The connection between the two makes the science more palatable and enjoyable.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Physics of Star Trek: Many Questions--- Few Answers,
It is not often a cultural phenomenon like Star Trek is responsible for a spurt of growth of interest in the hard sciences that serve as a backdrop for the various television shows and movies in its canon. Lawrence Krauss in THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK attempts to confront the unspoken assumptions that go on in the viewer's mind under the helm's countertop when Captain Kirk orders, 'Warp factor three, Mr. Sulu.' Apparently what goes on in reality is the merging of pseudo-science with some very clever writing that distracts an audience that is not particularly science-literate anyway. Krauss discusses the widespread Star Trek use of holograms, warp travel, matter transportation, phasers, inertial dampers, time travel, and nano-technology. In each case, he points out with some tongue in cheek the present impossibility of actually developing and using such devices. Krauss is a physicist who likes to write,or judging by his lengthy list of published books, he is a writer who likes physics. He has a smooth style of explaining the grotesquely unfamiliar in terms of the beloved familiar world of the Federation. TPST is a book written for those whose knowledge of basic science is gleaned from watching shows like Star Trek. He asks many questions, elaborates many details, but provides precious few answers. In short, he is just like my 10th grade physics teacher. Perhaps that is the inner lesson of this book: to probe beneath the smoke and mirrors of the writer-magician's blanket to see if the immutable laws of reasonability are being obeyed.
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, with a misleading title,
Although the title suggests otherwise, this is not really a book about Star Trek. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist, quotes Star Trek, but his further explanations largely neglect what can be seen in the series and, rather than that, strictly adhere to the laws of real physics. This alone is no criticism. We need popular books about physics (and this is a good one), but the title just doesn't suit it.
A typical chapter begins with examples from the series, but subsequently it becomes like a general analysis of science (and) fiction where one could easily replace "Enterprise" with "Star Destroyer" or anything else. In the chapter on warp propulsion, for instance, Krauss discusses a general theory of FTL travel without even mentioning the term "subspace" which is actually the key Star Trek's warp drive. The same happens in his reflections on the transporter. He assumes that a human being should be reduced to bits, although Star Trek's transporter is supposed to transmit the very matter of an object or person. Agreed, from the viewpoint of actual physics Krauss is right, and I would wish that he gave certain Trek authors a few repetitional lessons in physics. Anyway, I don't understand why he calls a book with rather few Trek-specific content and much more real world physics The Physics of Star Trek and not "The Physics of Science Fiction". I usually don't like to speculate, but maybe because the book sells better with "Star Trek" in the title, or does he intend to disillusion or even convert die-hard Trek fans? Well, I rather go with a positive explanation that Star Trek just covers all facets of fictional science and technology, so it was the obvious choice.
Speaking of disillusions, this book will have several for those fans who firmly believe that it just needs a bit of research until we get warp or only impulse drive or a transporter to work. Krauss makes very clear how much fuel it would take to accelerate a starship to "only" 0.5c and decelerate again (6561 times the ship's mass!), and what a resolution would be required to beam up a person's atoms from a planet surface (that of a lens as wide as the distance to the planet!). As I said, I think the book isn't supposed to spoil our fun of Star Trek, and I hope it won't have this effect on anyone. So if we keep in mind that Krauss is just talking about general concepts and not about how the technology works in Star Trek, this is a very good lecture for all who like Star Trek and all who like to know more about the limits of physics.
4.0 out of 5 stars How Physicists Think About Star Trek Movies and Series,
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. You also get special looks at less common features like multiple universes and special forms of radiation.
You can read this book from several perspectives as a result: (1) to appreciate what's happening in an episode; (2) to learn some science; (3) to think about where Star Trek could become real and where it is less likely to become so; and (4) what problems have to be solved in order for Star Trek technology to develop. I found the last perspective to be the most interesting. Professor Krauss's speculations about how rapidly technology might develop and what could be done with it were most fascinating.
Where the book fell down a little was in being quite strong in stating that certain "laws" of physics would never be changed. If we go back in 100 year increments, we find that a lot of earlier "laws" are later somewhat amended if not totally changed. That may happen in the future as well, as we learn more. Professor Krauss is a little too confident in many places that there is nothing else to learn. Most modern technology would look like Star Trek science fiction to someone living in 1700, despite being based on sound scientific principles not understood then.
After you finish enjoying this interesting book, think about what questions no one is trying to solve. Why not? What benefits would occur if they were solved? How could curiosity be stimulated about these questions?
Ask and answer important questions in interesting ways to make faster progress!
5.0 out of 5 stars Trekers Delight,
By A Customer
This is a most awsome book!!! It is not nessarly Trek centered. However it gives you insight on many questions any fan or general person may have.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings out the "realities" of the world of Star Trek.,
I'm certainly no expert in physics. But I've always been a fan of "Star Trek" and fascinated by the incredibly clever details in the ST episodes that make it a believable world. Speaking of details, this book is full of them. The author explains how and why certain things could work and others couldn't. And I was again impressed by the sheer genius and consistency of the ST writers. Sure, it's disappointing to find out that some of the processes they invented could never actually work. What surprised me was that I actually understood why! This is so well written and so comprehensible that I'll probably read it again just to savor it. I highly recommend it for any ST fan.
5.0 out of 5 stars "The World is a lot crazier than you think",
Said Professor Krauss in my physics class. After reading this book, I reassured what he meant. While 'Surprise' could explain how I felt to know the today's science was just practicing baby steps, 'Amaze' would not even be a strong term to describe my feeling to know how far the future science can go. Throughout the entire book, I was filled with the excitement of learning the incredible science facts that have never charmingly appealed to me. Not only as a reviewer of this book, but also as a student of the author's Physics class, I can confidently tell you that Professor Krauss is in love with Physics, and he feels so good about it.
Note: You are required to have at least elementary school education in prior to read this book. :)
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The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss (Paperback - July 10 2007)
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