THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK by Lawrence M. Krauss


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Physicist Krauss (Case Western Reserve Univ.) has tackled the daunting task of explaining the complexities of modern physics to the uninitiated before (Fear of Physics, 1993), with mixed results; here he uses concepts from the super-popular Star Trek television series as a kind of hook to make the lessons a little easier to swallow. Krauss leads off with a look at travel in the futuristic Trek setting: Does all this talk of ""warp nine"" amount to anything? Might we ever leap from star to star like Kirk, Picard, and the others? The answer is a hesitant maybe, as Krauss explains with reference to Newtonian, Einsteinian, and more modern theories of space and time, which do indeed seem to leave room for ""warping"" space as a means of travel. (A recurring theme throughout is how often the Trek writers seem to get the terminology at least close to correct--the original series, for instance, used the term ""black star"" before the name ""black hole"" had been coined.) From warp drive he moves on to the transporter, with somewhat less encouraging results (the physical hurdles suggest we'll never beam anyone up at all), and then to the holodeck, which seems the most likely of all Trek tech to actually work. Thereafter the book drifts further and further from Trek specifics, glancing at the likelihood of alien life, cosmic strings, solitons, and other edgy subjects, with only a few allusions to maintain the Trek theme. That theme certainly makes it all more user-friendly, but Krauss's brevity will leave readers who don't subscribe to Scientific American a little lost, and those who do without much new to chew on.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1995
ISBN: 0465002048
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Basic