Rachel's Reviews > Hyperspace

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku
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's review
Aug 03, 08

really liked it
Read in August, 2008


If this is what physicists work on all day, I got ripped off in high school.

Okay, so half of this book is dedicated to "things we might be able to do in a million years IF we don't blow ourselves up before then and IF our math is correct" (that million, by the way? not an exaggeration). But before this book I didn't understand how a theory can become a theory just "because the math works." Frankly, I still don't--entirely--but my understanding is closer. I would have liked to see a few of the equations that go into string theory, in an appendix perhaps or just scattered through the text. (I say this, but this is coming from a woman who found "Six Easy Pieces" too daunting. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.) What I'm saying, I guess, is that Michio Kaku does a wonderful job explaining the theoretical components of the, er, theory, but when he gets to the point of explaining why the math works out or, his favorite device, showing how string theory encompasses relativity and the Standard Model like a jigsaw puzzle, he lost me. I can't figure out how mathematical equations become spatially linked (read the book, look at the diagrams, and you'll see what I mean).

It helps if you've read Flatland before this, and if you have a basic idea of physics--though Kaku does patiently explain the Big Bang, etc, for those who need a refresher.

All in all, a fascinating look at one possible way our universe is constructed. Now, my personal opinion--and I'm no mathematician, but I hope I'm getting this right--is that Kaku is right: Nature likes simplicity. And any theory that has as many kinds of subatomic particles as string theory (which encompasses the Standard Model, which predicts the existence of many strangely-named bits of matter) is still lacking something, so perhaps the theory still needs refining.
Get rid of the squarks and winos and we'll talk.

(P.S. I read a passage from here to Chris and he just looked at me, horrified. "I would NOT read that for fun." So sue me, it's definitely not the most fun book. you've been warned.)

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