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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel [Format Kindle]

Michio Kaku
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit



I. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

II. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

III. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


"Shields up!"

In countless Star Trek episodes this is the first order that Captain Kirk barks out to the crew, raising the force fields to protect the starship Enterprise against enemy fire.

So vital are force fields in Star Trek that the tide of the battle can be measured by how the force field is holding up. Whenever power is drained from the force fields, the Enterprise suffers more and more damaging blows to its hull, until finally surrender is inevitable.

So what is a force field? In science fiction it's deceptively simple: a thin, invisible yet impenetrable barrier able to deflect lasers and rockets alike. At first glance a force field looks so easy that its creation as a battlefield shield seems imminent. One expects that any day some enterprising inventor will announce the discovery of a defensive force field. But the truth is far more complicated.

In the same way that Edison's lightbulb revolutionized modern civilization, a force field could profoundly affect every aspect of our lives. The military could use force fields to become invulnerable, creating an impenetrable shield against enemy missiles and bullets. Bridges, superhighways, and roads could in theory be built by simply pressing a button. Entire cities could sprout instantly in the desert, with skyscrapers made entirely of force fields. Force fields erected over cities could enable their inhabitants to modify the effects of their weather-high winds, blizzards, tornados-at will. Cities could be built under the oceans within the safe canopy of a force field. Glass, steel, and mortar could be entirely replaced.

Yet oddly enough a force field is perhaps one of the most difficult devices to create in the laboratory. In fact, some physicists believe it might actually be impossible, without modifying its properties.

Michael Faraday

The concept of force fields originates from the work of the great nineteenth-century British scientist Michael Faraday.

Faraday was born to working-class parents (his father was a blacksmith) and eked out a meager existence as an apprentice bookbinder in the early 1800s. The young Faraday was fascinated by the enormous breakthroughs in uncovering the mysterious properties of two new forces: electricity and magnetism. Faraday devoured all he could concerning these topics and attended lectures by Professor Humphrey Davy of the Royal Institution in London.

One day Professor Davy severely damaged his eyes in a chemical accident and hired Faraday to be his secretary. Faraday slowly began to win the confidence of the scientists at the Royal Institution and was allowed to conduct important experiments of his own, although he was often slighted. Over the years Professor Davy grew increasingly jealous of the brilliance shown by his young assistant, who was a rising star in experimental circles, eventually eclipsing Davy's own fame. After Davy died in 1829 Faraday was free to make a series of stunning breakthroughs that led to the creation of generators that would energize entire cities and change the course of world civilization.

The key to Faraday's greatest discoveries was his "force fields." If one places iron filings over a magnet, one finds that the iron filings create a spiderweb-like pattern that fills up all of space. These are Faraday's lines of force, which graphically describe how the force fields of electricity and magnetism permeate space. If one graphs the magnetic fields of the Earth, for example, one finds that the lines emanate from the north polar region and then fall back to the Earth in the south polar region. Similarly, if one were to graph the electric field lines of a lightning rod in a thunderstorm, one would find that the lines of force concentrate at the tip of the lightning rod. Empty space, to Faraday, was not empty at all, but was filled with lines of force that could make distant objects move. (Because of Faraday's poverty-stricken youth, he was illiterate in mathematics, and as a consequence his notebooks are full not of equations but of hand-drawn diagrams of these lines of force. Ironically, his lack of mathematical training led him to create the beautiful diagrams of lines of force that now can be found in any physics textbook. In science a physical picture is often more important than the mathematics used to describe it.)

Historians have speculated on how Faraday was led to his discovery of force fields, one of the most important concepts in all of science. In fact, the sum total of all modern physics is written in the language of Faraday's fields. In 1831, he made the key breakthrough regarding force fields that changed civilization forever. One day, he was moving a child's magnet over a coil of wire and he noticed that he was able to generate an electric current in the wire, without ever touching it. This meant that a magnet's invisible field could push electrons in a wire across empty space, creating a current.

Faraday's "force fields," which were previously thought to be useless, idle doodlings, were real, material forces that could move objects and generate power. Today the light that you are using to read this page is probably energized by Faraday's discovery about electromagnetism. A spinning magnet creates a force field that pushes the electrons in a wire, causing them to move in an electrical current. This electricity in the wire can then be used to light up a lightbulb. This same principle is used to generate electricity to power the cities of the world. Water flowing across a dam, for example, causes a huge magnet in a turbine to spin, which then pushes the electrons in a wire, forming an electric current that is sent across high-voltage wires into our homes.

In other words, the force fields of Michael Faraday are the forces that drive modern civilization, from electric bulldozers to today's computers, Internet, and iPods.

Faraday's force fields have been an inspiration for physicists for a century and a half. Einstein was so inspired by them that he wrote his theory of gravity in terms of force fields. I, too, was inspired by Faraday's work. Years ago I successfully wrote the theory of strings in terms of the force fields of Faraday, thereby founding string field theory. In physics when someone says, "He thinks like a line of force," it is meant as a great compliment.

The Four Forces

Over the last two thousand years one of the crowning achievements of physics has been the isolation and identification of the four forces that rule the universe. All of them can be described in the language of fields introduced by Faraday. Unfortunately, however, none of them has quite the properties of the force fields described in most science fiction. These forces are

1. Gravity, the silent force that keeps our feet on the ground, prevents the Earth and the stars from disintegrating, and holds the solar system and galaxy together. Without gravity, we would be flung off the Earth into space at the rate of 1,000 miles per hour by the spinning planet. The problem is that gravity has precisely the opposite properties of a force field found in science fiction. Gravity is attractive, not repulsive; is extremely weak, relatively speaking; and works over enormous, astronomical distances. In other words, it is almost the opposite of the flat, thin, impenetrable barrier that one reads about in science fiction or one sees in science fiction movies. For example, it takes the entire planet Earth to attract a feather to the floor, but we can counteract Earth's gravity by lifting the feather with a finger. The action of our finger can counteract the gravity of an entire planet that weighs over six trillion trillion kilograms.

2. Electromagnetism (EM), the force that lights up our cities. Lasers, radio, TV, modern electronics, computers, the Internet, electricity, magnetism-all are consequences of the electromagnetic force. It is perhaps the most useful force ever harnessed by humans. Unlike gravity, it can be both attractive and repulsive. However, there are several reasons that it is unsuitable as a force field. First, it can be easily neutralized. Plastics and other insulators, for example, can easily penetrate a powerful electric or magnetic field. A piece of plastic thrown in a magnetic field would pass right through. Second, electromagnetism acts over large distances and cannot easily be focused onto a plane. The laws of the EM force are described by James Clerk Maxwell's equations, and these equations do not seem to admit force fields as solutions.

3 & 4. The weak and strong nuclear forces. The weak force is the force of radioactive decay. It is the force that heats up the center of the Earth, which is radioactive. It is the force behind volcanoes, earthquakes, and continental drift. The strong force holds the nucleus of the atom together. The energy of the sun and the stars originates from the nuclear force, which is responsible for lighting up the universe. The problem is that the nuclear force is a short-range force, acting mainly over the distance of a nucleus. Because it is so bound to the properties of nuclei, it is extremely hard to manipulate. At present the only ways we have of manipulating this force are to blow subatomic particles apart in atom smashers or to detonate atomic bombs.

Although the force fields used in science fiction may not conform to the known laws of physics, there are still loopholes that might make the creation of such a force field possible. First, there may be a fifth force, still unseen in the laboratory. Such a force might, for example, wo...

From Publishers Weekly

In this latest effort to popularize the sciences, City University of New York professor and media star Kaku (Hyperspace) ponders topics that many people regard as impossible, ranging from psychokinesis and telepathy to time travel and teleportation. His Class I impossibilities include force fields, telepathy and antiuniverses, which don't violate the known laws of science and may become realities in the next century. Those in Class II await realization farther in the future and include faster-than-light travel and discovery of parallel universes. Kaku discusses only perpetual motion machines and precognition in Class III, things that aren't possible according to our current understanding of science. He explains how what many consider to be flights of fancy are being made tangible by recent scientific discoveries ranging from rudimentary advances in teleportation to the creation of small quantities of antimatter and transmissions faster than the speed of light. Science and science fiction buffs can easily follow Kaku's explanations as he shows that in the wonderful worlds of science, impossible things are happening every day. (Mar. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 482 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 356 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin (3 avril 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002RI9CJI
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°155.324 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Commentaires en ligne

4.0 étoiles sur 5
4.0 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Bonne Introduction 25 février 2010
Par Tran
Ce livre permet tout d'abord une bonne introduction aux sujets "mystérieux" de la physique quantique. Il permet de comprendre les mécanismes de celle-ci sans trop être technique, il n'y a aucune équation dans ce livre, ce n'est donc pas une approche mathématique mais bien pratique, c'est à dire, les possibilités offertes par la physique quantique (comme la téléportation d'information, etc ...). Je recommande donc ce livre aux personnes qui souhaitent découvrir les aspects pratiques et les différentes interprétations de la physique quantique.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Impossible n'est pas scientifique 21 juillet 2009
Par EBE78
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Loi de Kaku: l'impossible n'est que du possible qui n'a pas encore été découvert.

Brodant sur ce postulat de base, Kaku s'en donne à coeur joie et liste tout ce qui va se révéler possible dans les 10 ans ou 100 000 ans à venir.

Il est possible que vous trouviez ce livre passionnant. Il est impossible que vous n'en sortiez pas enrichi.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beau livre 9 décembre 2012
Par coco
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Très bel ouvrage, en anglais mais très intéressant. Je le recommande à ceux qui font des études de physique. A voir
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3 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 ouvrage complet, enthousiaste et parfois puéril 23 juin 2009
L'ouvrage traite d'un vaste ensemble de sujets ayant trait aux frontières des connaissances humaines dans les domaines de la physique et des techniques. Il est très bien documenté, et la curiosité de l'auteur rend souvent la lecture de son livre instructive et agréable. Malheureusement, le tout est abîmé par un enthousiasme navrant pour les puérilités de la science fiction, et le propos est trop dispersé. Enfin les commentaires définitifs de Kip Thorne sur l'état futur des connaissances en physique en 2050 est prodigieusement irritant. Ce sont des prophéties à deux balles.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  379 commentaires
210 internautes sur 219 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 If only Jules Verne could read this book. 3 avril 2008
Par Robert Busko - Publié sur Amazon.com
Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, force Fields, Teleportation, and time Travel is just the right book at the right time. In fact, Michio Kaku's sytle reminds me just a bit like Carl Sagan in that he tries to make scientifically difficult topic easy to understand. Kaku's mission here is to spread knowledge and that he does very well.

There are other books similar to Physics of the Impossible. Some have been mentioned by other reviewers. I'd like to mention The Science of Star Wars by Jeanne Cavelus and The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss and Stephen Hawking. Like Physics of the Impossible, both of these works attempt to apply hard scientific facts-of-life to popular ideas in modern fiction. What Kaku does is to organize his ideas into classes of impossibility and here lies an important element of this book.

Michio Kaku is a born communicator which is why he is so often seen on television and why his books are so popular. He is at his best, in my opinion, in Physics of the Impossible. Well written by an author that knows his material and wants to communicate his ideas, the book is sure to please and inform and stimulate the imagination.

I highly recommend Physics of the Impossible.
Peace to all.
133 internautes sur 143 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fun, mind-bending journey! 31 mars 2008
Par I Love Tacos - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is probably Dr. Kaku's best popular work since Hyperspace or Visions. Here is a wide range of scientific possibilities to be explored. Dr. Kaku's gift is to make modern physics comprehensible to those of us without a mathematical background. In this book he uses his gift to explain how the standard model and string field theory (which he is coauthor of) can be applied to contemplation of some of our most wildest scifi dreams. The chapters are short and easily read in short sittings, which lends well to a book that stretches the imagination so dramaticaly. Dr. Kaku is also careful to remain objective in discussing different theoretical approaches which is an admirable feat given some of the topics ventured into in this book. If you enjoy cutting edge science, it doesn't get more cutting edge then this. Thank you Dr. Kaku for yet another wonderful journey.
42 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Making Science accessible to the masses 24 avril 2008
Par GB Banks (publisher, author) - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I've been a big fan of Dr. Kaku since I first saw him on The Science Channel years ago, but this is the first book of his I've read.

In "The Physics of the Impossible," Michio Kaku explores the very subjects that fuels the imagination of those who love science fiction because of the possibilities it raises. Is Time Travel possible? What about Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Light Sabers? Could one really build a Death Star?

One of the great things about Dr. Kaku's approach is that he does not talk down to the lay person, but he writes just as he speaks, with a simple eloquence that makes these complex concepts accessible to the non-Physicist mind. And it is always clear just how much passion Dr. Kaku has for his work, and he easily passes that on to his audience through his words.

Another great thing about this book is that it's not only an education on the concepts of such things as String Theory and so much more, it's also an exploration of the history behind moderm Physics, dating back to the days of Isaac Newton and beyond. I learned so much about the triumphs, and even more surprising, the tragedies befalling many of the pioneers of modern science merely because they were people with concepts far ahead of their times.

I have to say that if you are a young physicist in the making, an older person who is simply fascinated in the subject of Science, a Science Fiction writer looking for deeper understanding of these subjects to inspire you in your writing, or just someone wanting to get better insight into the mysteries behind the nature of the universe, then this is definitely the book for you.

- Gregory Bernard Banks, author, reader, reviewer
59 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The Impossible is Merely Preposterous 10 novembre 2008
Par doomsdayer520 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Michio Kaku has a strong literary record as a Sagan-like popularizer of the deepest science, with a true concern for the knowledge of the masses. Kaku's previous books (especially "Hyperspace") are imminently readable treasures for the physics enthusiast who doesn't hold multiple PhD's. But unfortunately, this latest book is not very well written and mostly recycles material that has been presented better elsewhere. Here Kaku builds mostly from fanciful science fiction gadgets and processes like time travel, wormholes, telepathy, and even perpetual motion machines. Many of these amazing things might just be possible in the future - either the near future or the extremely far future - and Kaku delivers on the laws of physics that would have to be conquered (or even altered) for some of these "impossibilities" to see the light of day.

But the book is awkwardly paced, with Kaku often going off on tangents into obscure areas of academia that I suspect need a popular author to drum up funding, such as research into gravitational waves or the construction of immense super-colliders. And after drifting into such esoteric realms, Kaku tends to return abruptly to pop sci-fi gadgets and quick pronouncements on whether or not they're possible. One perplexing example is a wide detour into the bizarre realm of tachyons that derails an initially straightforward chapter on precognition. Kaku's pop culture coverage is also fractured and arbitrary, at least as presented here, which can be seen in the chapters on extraterrestrials/UFOs and robots. Another problem is an inconsistent attitude toward the possibility of new discoveries about the laws of the universe. On several occasions Kaku points out incorrect pronouncements on this matter from old closed-minded scientists, but can't always avoid making the same mistake himself when speaking of present-day breakthroughs.

Granted, this is still a mostly interesting book, but Kaku is not entirely successful in combining cutting-edge knowledge with often cheesy or outdated science fiction fantasies. This leads to some awkward writing and pacing that are not up to Kaku's usual standards. [~doomsdayer520~]
157 internautes sur 189 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Mission: Impossible 22 mars 2008
Par Julie Neal - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I think the biggest reason some people reject evolution is a lack of imagination. It's difficult for humans to picture the vast amount of time it takes for organisms to evolve. To speculate on the many mysteries of science takes a vivid imagination. Fortunately, author Michio Kaku has one. He brings a bright-eyed, gee-whiz sense of wonder to his subject, and his writing makes it contagious.

Kaku's passion is the impossible, and in this book he explores different kinds of impossibilities. Class I ideas -- -- force fields, invisibility, phasers and death stars, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots, extraterrestrials and UFOs, starships, antimatter and anti-universes -- could come true within a hundred years. Class II impossibilities, such as travel faster than light, time travel and parallel universes, may be possible in the next millennium. Class III ideas, like perpetual motion machines and precognition, may never be possible, given the underlying science.

As Kaku explores his subjects, he uses references anyone can understand: Star Trek, Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, Flash Gordon, Men in Black. The result is an imminently readable physics primer.

I hesitated to use the phrase "physics primer" in that last paragraph, because it might scare off people who would actually find this book fascinating. The truth is, this is nothing like that dry science book you remember from school. It entertains, educates and inspires.
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