/ Published May 31, 2012
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku. Doubleday, 2011, 416 pp.
Without the scientist, there is no future. The handsome and beautiful may earn admiration of society, but all the wondrous inventions of the future are a by-product of the unsung, anonymous scientist.
Michio Kaku has had two passions in life, the desire to understand all the physical laws of nature and to see the future. As a theoretical physicist and cofounder of string field theory, he has worked to achieve the former, and with his latest book, he has found the later. The two passions, he concludes, are complementary as he tells the story of cutting-edge scientists working in laboratories around the world and gleans from their research and scientific knowledge a vision of the future to the year 2100.
Dr. Kaku examines the future in the context of eight subject areas and three time periods: the Near Future from the present to 2030, Midcentury from 2030 to 2070, and Far Future from 2070 to 2100. His investigations and predictions are made on the future technology of computers, artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, energy, space travel, wealth, and, in an overarching final chapter, effects of the technologies of the future on humanity. His interviews with over 300 of the world’s top scientists provide a view into the scientific community where the future is being invented.
In his interviews and visits to laboratories, Dr. Kaku ensured all the development cited was consistent with the known laws of physics and assumptions of major changes to these laws were not introduced, and he verified that prototypes exist for the technologies he cites.
Dr. Kaku presents the results of these interviews to support and build his optimistic view of the future. The author can accomplish this effectively because, as he points out, unlike most futurists who are historians, sociologists, or science fiction writers and attempt to predict the future without the necessary scientific background, he is an insider in the scientific community. His book seeks to correct the one common “futurist” problem of underestimating the rate of progress of science. Understanding his limitations and those of the scientists he interviewed, he acknowledges that the task of predicting the future is daunting and will always suffer from inaccuracy. His approach attempts to minimize that problem by examining ongoing scientific research.
The author maintains that to understand the future, one must have an understanding of the four fundamental laws of nature. He provides brief, easily understood, explanations of the force of gravity, electromagnetic force, and nuclear weak and strong forces. He explains the historical effect of gaining the understanding of these laws. He builds on this understanding of basic scientific knowledge to provide an engaging view of the research, inventions, machines, and therapies that exist now or that he believes will redefine the world and our civilization over the next 100 years and ultimately into the far distant future.
Make no mistake about it, this book is “popularized” science. A reader expecting a detailed technical or scientific work should look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, science and technology fascinate you but only to the point of basic concepts and you want to understand the developing practical use of science and technology, this book fulfills those purposes. The only criticism of the work might be that it is overly optimistic. Science is a double edge sword. Dr. Kaku, while acknowledging some of the dangers of science, does not address those dangers completely in all cases. However, those seeking to understand the burgeoning technology and information explosion of the early twenty-first century with the goal of using it to their benefit will enjoy this book.
Author Michio Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at City University in New York. He is a futurist who promotes science to a general audience using extensive media exposure. He has authored over 70 scientific articles and a number of acclaimed science books, including:
Beyond Einstein (with Jennifer Thompson) (1995)
Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century (1998)
Einstein's Cosmos (2004)
Parallel Worlds (2004)
Physics of the Impossible (2008)
Physics of the Future (2011)
Physics of the Impossible is the basis for his Science Channel television series “Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible.” He has also hosted two scientific radio programs, “Explorations” and “Science Fantastic,” which have been broadcast by over 140 radio stations.
Vernon Carr III
Senior Business Analyst, AETC/A6CI
"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."