Physics of the Future

Physics of the Future (2011) by Michio Kaku is a strange book about the future that is poorly named and is less than the sum of its parts. Kaku is a theoretical physicist and science popularizer. He’s widely featured on American TV.

The book is a grab bag of what Kaku has seen and what he thinks might be possible in the next 100 years. It’s not really about what physics is likely to discover, more about what scientific advances Kaku can foresee in the next 100 years. Kaku compares his book to some accurate predictions that have been made by people in the past. Kaku thinks that what makes for accurate prediction is knowledge of science. He is naively picking out the correct predictions while leaving the vast swathe of incorrect predictions by scientists about the futre out.

Kaku divides the time into the near future, before 2030, the mid-century, the period between 2030 and 2070 and the far future from 2070 to 2100. He then looks at a number of areas and looks at what might be possible. He looks at the future of the computer, AI, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Energy, Space Travel, the economy and then writes about a possible day in the life of someone in 2100.

Kaku is clearly very well-informed, very smart and provides lots of views of what is likely before 2030 and what is possible beyond then. The insights into what he thinks is possible before 2030 are probably the best part. Kaku is fairly confident that we will have self-driving cars and considerably increased computing power. But so are many people.

The view he has of nanotechnology is especially interesting. It’s clear that breakthroughs in this area have the potential to be game changing for everything else described. Faster chips and more energy are likely to arise. Kaku also addresses the popular concern of global warming which he takes seriously. He also appears to believe that low C02 emitting energy sources will be found and used before the problems become to great.

The book is worth reading for people who are interested in the informed views of a highly intelligent writer. It’s about as good a view of science and technology as people are likely to get. It will be interesting to see how much of the predictions made will become reality.

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