Future Science: Redefining the Impossible

“Shields up! Ahead warp factor three, Mr. Sulu.”

“Aye, sir. Ahead Warp 3…”

The following are the (edited) opening paragraphs from a post I wrote a few weeks ago for my other blog. Naturally, I thought readers of this blog would be equally interested in the subject matter. So,…

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Physics_of_the_impossible_Kaku_2008If you are a science fiction buff like me, no doubt you enjoy all of the fantastic weapons, tools, and other gizmos at our heroes’ disposal. (Unless, of course, the story is about some sort of apocalypse or dystopia where such things are rare or non-existent.) I don’t know about you, but I would love to be able to teleport, time travel, or take a starship through hyperspace! But, we call these stories and the futuristic technologies used in them “science fiction” (or, “speculative fiction”, to use the old term) for a reason: it can’t be done. Or, at least, not yet.

A book I have been perusing lately is Physics of the Impossible (2008) by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. (You may have seen Kaku on one of his many appearances on science-related TV shows.) It’s an enjoyable read, and his references to pop-culture are fun, though he sometimes gets things slightly wrong. (For example, he states that Star Trek IV involves time travel back to the 1960s, when it was actually the 1980s. Typo? He also misunderstands how the universal translator device in Star Trek is supposed to work.)

From the Introduction:

“Time and again we see that the study of the impossible has opened up entirely new vistas, pushing the boundaries of physics and chemistry and forcing scientists to redefine what they mean by ‘impossible.’…

In this book, therefore, I divide the things that are ‘impossible’ into three categories.

The first are what I call Class I impossibilities. These are technologies that are impossible today but that do not violate the known laws of physics. So they might be possible in this century, or perhaps the next, in modified form. They include…”

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To read the entire article, please follow this link. Who knows? Maybe some of the other posts will strike your fancy, too….

Oh, and Happy New Year!!

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