Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension ハードカバー – 1994/3/24
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Are there other dimensions beyond our own? Is time travel possible? Can we change the past? Are there gateways to parallel universes? All of us have pondered such questions, but there was a time when scientists dismissed these notions as outlandish speculations. Not any more. Today, they are the focus of the most intense scientific activity in recent memory. In Hyperspace, Michio Kaku, author of the widely acclaimed Beyond Einstein and a leading theoretical physicist, offers the first book-length tour of the most exciting (and perhaps most bizarre) work in modern physics, work which includes research on the tenth dimension, time warps, black holes, and multiple universes.
The theory of hyperspace (or higher dimensional space)--and its newest wrinkle, superstring theory--stand at the center of this revolution, with adherents in every major research laboratory in the world, including several Nobel laureates. Beginning where Hawking's Brief History of Time left off, Kaku paints a vivid portrayal of the breakthroughs now rocking the physics establishment. Why all the excitement? As the author points out, for over half a century, scientists have puzzled over why the basic forces of the cosmos--gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces--require markedly different mathematical descriptions. But if we see these forces as vibrations in a higher dimensional space, their field equations suddenly fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, perfectly snug, in an elegant, astonishingly simple form. This may thus be our leading candidate for the Theory of Everything. If so, it would be the crowning achievement of 2,000 years of scientific investigation into matter and its forces. Already, the theory has inspired several thousand research papers, and has been the focus of over 200 international conferences.
Michio Kaku is one of the leading pioneers in superstring theory and has been at the forefront of this revolution in modern physics. With Hyperspace, he has produced a book for general readers which conveys the vitality of the field and the excitement as scientists grapple with the meaning of space and time. It is an exhilarating look at physics today and an eye-opening glimpse into the ultimate nature of the universe.
The first book-length exploration of the most exciting development in modern physics, the theory of 10-dimensional space. The theory of hyperspace, which Michio Kaku pioneered, may be the leading candidate for the Theory of Everything that Einstein spent the remaining years of his life searching for.
The book takes us on a journey through the discovery-history of higher dimensions and the quest to unify the laws of physics. It introduces us to Riemannian geometry and explains how forces can be viewed as consequences of geometry in higher dimensions (Hyperspace) a concept that was later used in the General Theory of Relativity, Kaluza-Klein theory as well superstring theory. The laws of physics become more unified, simpler and more beautiful if you add a few dimensions. He convincingly makes the case that you can discover the secrets of the Universe by peering into Hyperspace. The book also discusses topics such as the history of modern physics, relativity, quantum physics, the standard model, GUTs, super gravity, black holes, the big bang, parallel universes, etc. Towards the end of the book he is discussing the fate of the Universe and the fate of human civilization, and the threats we face from the potential of nuclear war, global warming, and possible collisions with asteroids.
The book does not go into depth on any of the multiple topics discussed. It is not that kind of a book. However, on some minor topics I found it to be misleading, particularly on the topics of parallel universes and “Schrödinger’s cat”. For example, he states on page 261 “To Schrödinger, the idea of thinking about cats that are neither dead nor alive was the height of absurdity, yet nevertheless the experimental confirmation of quantum mechanics forces us to this conclusion.” The last part is simply incorrect. This is an interpretation issue, not an experimental issue, and it is sorted out in different ways by more modern interpretations of quantum physics such as the ensemble interpretation and the relational interpretation of quantum physics, or via "decoherence". As for me, when I as a young student taking classes in Quantum Physics at the end of the 1980’s I adopted what was essentially a pre-cursor to the relational interpretation because of what I noticed when I tried to perform Galileo transforms on quantum wave functions. There’s no real contradiction and there are no multiple worlds (universes) needed to explain this. I’ve seen other popularizers confuse people the same way, and I think it just turns people off.
Anyway, other than the above minor complaint, I think this was a very enjoyable and interesting book that I am very glad that I’ve read.
And yet, there are substantial problems here.
The author, a respected major scientist, is far from neutral here and is rather dismissive of the fact that there is no available method by which to prove the String Theory which he devotes a good part of the book to defending. It is true that the presumed 10 dimension model supports many different areas within Physics. Yet, consistency in giving the correct answer is insufficient to prove a theory. Newton's Laws worked well until Maxwell and later Einstein questioned the Principia's absolute standing. The Universe of Ptolmey in most ways, or the Geometry of Euclid were absolutes of their time. With few easy contenders, String Theory is definitely worthwhile, but the author has not chosen to show any scruples about it.
Whether from the standpoint of increasing the interst of a segment of readers or not, the author also choses to digress to references to Star Trek and other Science Fiction a bit more than this reviewer feels to have been relevant. Some of the references may be seen as useful and others verge on fantasy, if not crossing well beyond the boundary.
Scenarios of differing types of cultures, from our present 0 to I, II or III seem generally a bit optimistic in speculative nature at the least. The Earth and Universe might be doomed. Perhaps this is even in the purview of Physics, but projected escape measures would seem to reflect poor editing on top of some manic flight of fancy. At one point a human culture is perhaps to move through a wormhole to a fresh Universe.
[I am sure that we can mess up the Universe there much less than we have here!]
What I cannot fathom is whether we can transfer enough animal and plant matter with us to make some feasible ecology. What is it that we are to eat? What is it that we are to do for fabrics, for pets, for handling wastes. Perhaps as a type II or Type III civilization we have passed the need for pets or clothing or provision of Oxygen. Perhaps we can use the energy of a local Black hole emissions or some other astral energy, but what of petrochemicals for clothing materials (synthetics) or plastics. Are we to assume that culture can survive on a few Billion 'ready to eat' meals that have been brought along, if we have no ability to grow sufficient crops or herds of animals? Are we to live long as cannibals instead? And are we as such an advanced culture to thrive as a single species? Transporting a Biome to a different planet or Universe would entail logistics that have not really been addressed with any thought here or elsewhere and discussion of such fancies is so far 'over the top' as to have produced a cackle or two from me in the reading of this book.