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HALL OF FAMEon October 21, 2000
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.
In his foreword Stephen Hawking points out what we have known since Jules Verne: "Today's science fiction is often tomorrow's science fact." I believe it was Jim Kirk who said things were only impossible until you did them. If I had read this book when I first watched the original Star Trek in syndication it might have kindled my interest in science to a level at least appropriate for polite social conversation. I can easily imagine what reading this book might do for somewhere who loves science; opening the minds of students to the possibilities behind the television show they enjoy watching.
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on December 10, 1997
I thought this was a very good book. It was a little difficult to understand, but I should have expected that, considering most of ideas I've never heard of. Anyons? Soliton waves? I had no idea. I do have an idea for the Undiscoverable Country chapter, though. I just got finished watching the Voyager episode "The Gift" and I noticed something at the end. Somehow, Kes propels the ship 9,500 light years in a matter of seconds. I didn't do any calculations-the show just got finished-but I'm pretty sure that that is faster than Warp 10, which the Voyager series already proved was almost impossible in a shuttlecraft, let alone a full-sized starship. That brings me to something else that Dr. Krauss can add. It isn't really a physics problem, but more of a continuity error one of my relatives informed me of. As I have already stated, Voyager has proved the impossibility of travel over Warp 10, but in more than one episode of ST:TOS and ST:TNG, ships have gone over Warp 10. I believe Dr. Krauss noted one such episode in his book, but I would just like to say that there are many more.
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on January 30, 1999
Discusses and explains a lot of intriguing concepts, and has been MUCH more educational than any science class I have taken as yet. There is a lot of explanation for people who are not familiar with the physics topics covered, like me. There are two problems though: 1) Warp drive is discussed without mention of the involvement of subspace. My impression is that warp drive could not exist without subspace. 2) Nothing about force fields, on which the holodeck relies to give its holographic objects more realism. So if you know a lot about physics already you will probably be a little bored, but if not, judging by my experience, you will find it fascinating. Just do not treat the author's explanations of Starfleet technology as necessarily the way it actually works, because this is definitely not authorized by the makers of Star Trek.
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on February 5, 1997
As a former aeronautical engineer who had the opportunity to study quantum physics, I very much enjoyed this book. The author was able to show that science fiction at the level of Star Trek carries on the dreams and hopes that we all have, and, more specifically, those from which physicists make their lives.

The ingenuity of Star Trek physics bases itself on what is already amazing in comtemporary quantum physics. Most of us would already be amazed by what quantum physicists are dealing with every day. The author also points out some amusing inconsistencies which are almost necessary for the sake of entertaining our 20th century peoples. Reading this book makes you want to learn quantum physics and feel that you already live in the future.
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on May 2, 2001
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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on May 27, 2001
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.
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on April 15, 2000
This book gives a good overview look at each of the major physics-oriented aspects of the Star Trek universe. Just how likely is it that we will develop transporters, food replicators, or (probably of greatest interest to most of us) holo suites? The answers are here in this well written layman's guide. This book is best suited for the curious, for those who wonder if these things will one day be possible. The authors take us down each path, sometimes determining that it will be possible, someday, and at other times, letting us down easy. I thank the authors for satisfying my curiosity as well as teaching me some theoretical aspects of physics at the same time.
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on September 18, 2015
Professor Krauss is awesome and huge Star Trek fan, he talks about OS & TNG in context of episodes and applying the laws of physics to each scenario.

It is entertaining and educational to see the reality of our favorite sci-fi, the more you read the possibility of hating the fact that you now know the reality will stay with you. I think of the physics & reality every time Picard says 'warp speed' and expecting to see everyone fall on the floor pinned down by gravity.

This book is for science & sci-fi nerds that love to keep their feet on the ground while their head is in imagination. FUN READ.
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on January 19, 1998
I ran across this book accidentally while thumbing through some texts in a bookstore on Einstein, relativity, space science, etc. I've always been a Trekkie and have often heard rumors of the "scientific correctness" of the show and wondered how fine the line was between science and fiction. Well, this book helped answer a lot of those questions. You don't have to be totally familiar with the laws of physics to read this book, for the most part it's reader friendly. I do, however, recommend the reader acquaint him/herself with some of the terminology...or have a reference near-by.
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on April 8, 2000
This book was the first of its kind-- to try and relate science to popular culture and science fiction--and it is the best of the bunch. The author is one of the best popularizers of science around. The writing is engaging, and humorous. I completely disagree with the reviewer who didn't like the writing and argued that this is for physics neophytes. Even those who are familiar with popular physics will get new insights into the exciting world of modern physics and astrophysics. And those who aren't will get a great first introduction to the wonders of the universe.
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