Michio Kaku is a credible scientist

Michio Kaku: "The Physics of the Impossible"

Projectors, phasers, time machines


Michio Kaku predicts a physics of the (impossible) possible

In his book "The Physics of the Impossible: Projectors, Phasers, Time Machines", the American physics professor Michio Kaku, born in 1947, dares to take an extremely optimistic view of the future of technology. Will we one day be able to walk through walls or will we soon be able to make ourselves invisible? These are just a few questions that he answers in a well-founded and entertaining way.

"Theories have four levels of acceptance:
I. That is meaningless nonsense;
II. That is interesting, but quirky;
III. that is true, but it is unimportant;
IV. I always said. "

In 1963 the English biologist J.B.S. Haldane. With a certain twinkle in his eye, he articulated thoughts that could "attack" the reader of the present book: Disbelief at the futuristic technical possibilities that the physicist Michio Kaku is discussing.

"Will we one day walk through the walls? Build spaceships that move faster than light? Read other people's thoughts? Be invisible? Move objects with just our thoughts?"the author wonders. Such scenarios hardly find a place in the imagination of our current thinking. But in the history of science there have often been predictions of what is impossible but ultimately proven to be feasible.

Lord Kelvin, for example, thought that flying machines were impossible or that x-rays were a bad trick. Rutherford, who discovered the atomic nucleus, considered the development of an atomic bomb to be impossible. And the presence of black holes was "proven" by Einstein to be excluded. Although he was of the opinion that "If an idea doesn't sound absurd at first, there is no hope for it." They have often been "Yesterday's stupidities (...) to the wisdom of tomorrow"as Sir William Osler aptly stated.

Michio Kaku is a very special optimist. He thinks almost anything is possible that is currently in the Science fiction-Literature is commonplace. At seventeen, Kaku built a simple particle accelerator, received a scholarship from Harvard University and worked under Edward Teller, the inventor of the hydrogen bomb. The physics professor helped develop string theory and is an avowed seeker of the world formula.

"In the short period of my life I have learned how the supposedly impossible repeatedly advanced to confirmed scientific knowledge", counters Kaku, "must something remain unthinkable in the centuries or millions of years to come just because it seems 'impossible' today?" The study of the impossible, according to the author, always opens up new perspectives and broadens the horizons of physics and chemistry. Unlike in Jules Verne's time, today we are by and large familiar with the fundamental laws of nature. "Scientists now understand them on a dizzying scale of 43 orders of magnitude: from the interior of the proton to the expanding universe." As a result, the rough outlines of future technology can now be sketched relatively well. The author introduces these to the reader.

Kaku has divided his book into three categories and thus subjected the "impossible" things to a certain classification.
He names the first "Impossibilities of the first degree". Kaku admits that these techniques will still be successful in this century, or perhaps not until the next century. Since no known laws of nature are violated, teleportation, antimatter machines, invisibility, certain forms of telepathy or psychokinesis belong to them.
Also the "Second degree impossibilities" are not in contradiction to our natural laws. Time travel, contact with parallel universes or travel faster than light may sound futuristic and be at the very edge of human understanding, but a well-advanced civilization in millennia or millions of years could make this "quantum leap".
That remained "Third degree impossibilities", which include perpetuum mobile and precognition, which Kaku classifies as rather unthinkable because they violate the well-known laws of nature. But maybe they too can be realized in the distant future. That would in turn cause a fundamental change in our understanding of physics.

"The Physics of the Impossible" is a stimulating and entertaining popular science book. Physical theories are explained in a way that is easy to understand. The fifteen chapters each begin with quotes from scientists or authors, such as that of Haldane, as well as excerpts from them Science fictionFilms and books. In this way, Kaku enables a relaxed start before he constantly works on "serious" details. Practical references from everyday life also loosen up. He confidently and credibly explains which findings are considered certain and which theories are speculative.

So perhaps such an "impossibility" of the first degree like telepathy may initially be dismissed as a pipe dream, because a brain can neither send thoughts nor receive them from other individuals. But now certain memories or movements can already be linked to activity patterns in the brain. For example, paralyzed people could move a prosthesis with just the power of their thoughts.

Or the crazy idea of ‚Äč‚Äčinvisibility like in "Harry Potter". Believe it or not, a metal cylinder has already been made invisible in the frequency range of radar beams and microwaves.
That too "Beam" is no longer considered excluded. Using a phenomenon from quantum physics - the "entanglement" of particles - teleportation at the atomic level has already been successful.

Michio Kaku's explanations allow a comprehensive and well-founded outlook into current and future theoretical physics. He succeeded in translating a supposedly dry topic into lively and lively everyday language.
"We are not at the end, but only at the beginning of a new physics. But whatever we find, there will always be new horizons that will always be waiting for us." (Michio Kaku)

(Heike Geilen; 11/2008)


Michio Kaku: "The physics of the impossible. Projectors, phasers, time machines"
(Original title "Physics of the Impossible:
A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel ")
Translated by Hubert Mania.
Hardback edition:
Rowohlt, 2008. 415 pages.
Order the book at amazon.de
Paperback edition:
rororo, 2010.
Order the book at amazon.de

Other books by the author (selection):

"The physics of the future. Our life in 100 years"

How will we live - in twenty, sixty, a hundred years? Michio Kaku predicts a bright future for humanity. Robots will do our day-to-day work for us. We control kitchen appliances and other machines with the power of our thoughts. Medical nanobots will alertly rush through our blood and nerve tracts and even cure cancer. We send our holograms to annoying meetings - to a conference table with virtual people and people of flesh and blood. Information can be projected directly into the cerebellum via the retina. We also control the weather - and nation states hardly play a role anymore. Nevertheless, we will continue to travel, meet, play sports and go to the pub because that's how people are. Science fiction? No, serious futurology. Michio Kaku describes in a catchy manner what the path into this future looks like - because a lot of it is already being prepared in science and industry today. Kaku asked 300 high-ranking researchers around the world how they expected the socio-technical development to proceed: from artificial intelligence to space travel, from medicine and biology to nanotechnology. And he presents his findings convincingly and with a light hand. (Rowohlt)
Order the book at amazon.de

"In hyperspace. A journey through time tunnels and parallel universes"
We live in a time when Science fiction becomes science. Ideas that used to be considered utopian nonsense are now part of serious, albeit speculative, scientific theories. Michio Kaku, who himself belongs to the avant-garde of this new physics and cosmology, takes the reader into the crazy world of hyperspace, which has not four, but ten dimensions and which houses not particles but oscillating cosmic threads called superstrings. (rororo)
Order the book at amazon.de

"In the parallel universe. A cosmological journey from Big bang into the 11th dimension "
In the past few years there have been two striking cuts for cosmologists and quantum physicists: the evidence of a mysterious "dark matter" in the expanding universe, the function and effect of which has not yet been clarified. The question of what was before the Big Bang is linked to their existence. The second, revolutionary idea is the so-called "Multiverse theory", a leading theory in search of the "universal formula". It says that our universe is only one of innumerable - in a space of at least eleven dimensions! At any given time, therefore, new big bangs occur and new universes arise. These thought experiments, which are beyond our imagination, could, if confirmed, cause a paradigm shift in quantum physics and shake our view of the uniqueness of our universe. A fascinating idea that Michio Kaku knows how to formulate in an understandable language. (rororo)
Order the book at amazon.de