Turning Science Fiction Into Science

 

Physics of the Impossible by Michio KakuIt was impossible for me to ignore a nonfiction physics book with a picture of the Tardis from Dr. Who on the cover. So I borrowed a copy of Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku from my public library. It’s fascinating.

Kaku’s main focus is to show how physics is moving into the realm of “impossible” science fiction. In the process of showing the reader what could happen, we learn what is happening or how it is happening. For example, in his discussions about phasers and light sabers, Kaku describes how computer chips keep getting faster and are able to hold more on them. Then he mentions how some studies into storing data on crystals are developing into reality. I know computer crystals rather than chips has been a science fiction staple for decades.

Right now I’m listening to Brightness Reef by David Brin in the car. One of the six alien races living on the planet Jijo moves around on wheels. I kept trying to picture how that would work, even with bones in sockets, etc. Then I learn in Kaku’s book that nature on Earth has already mastered atomic machines in some tiny creatures – so the possibility that larger creatures could work similarly is not a far stretch of the imagination. Brin’s characters could work after all.

Obviously science and science fiction work together. Science fiction takes imagination of what’s possible from what we know. Science can then turn that science fiction into reality. Then science fiction will take the imagination further. Then science will add to reality. Etc, etc, etc.

Cool.