Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century

( 6 )

Overview

In Visions, physicist and author Michio Kaku examines the great scientific revolutions that have dramatically reshaped the twentieth century—the quantum mechanics, biogenetics, and artificial intelligence—and shows how they will change and alter science and the way we live.

The next century will witness more far-reaching scientific revolutions, as we make the transition from unraveling the secrets of nature to becoming masters of nature. We will no longer be passive bystanders ...

See more details below
Paperback (1 ANCHOR)
$12.03
BN.com price
(Save 19%)$15.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (83) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $5.77   
  • Used (75) from $1.99   
Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

In Visions, physicist and author Michio Kaku examines the great scientific revolutions that have dramatically reshaped the twentieth century—the quantum mechanics, biogenetics, and artificial intelligence—and shows how they will change and alter science and the way we live.

The next century will witness more far-reaching scientific revolutions, as we make the transition from unraveling the secrets of nature to becoming masters of nature. We will no longer be passive bystanders to the dance of the universe, but will become creative choreographers of matter, life, and intelligence.

The first section of Visions presents a shocking look at a cyber-world infiltrated by millions of tiny intelligence systems. Part two illustrates how the decoding of DNA's genetic structure will allow humans the "godlike ability to manipulate life almost at will." Finally, VISIONS focuses on the future of quantum physics, in which physicists will perfect new ways to manipulate matter and harness the cosmic energy of the universe.

What makes Michio Kaku's vision of the science of the future so compelling—and so different from the mere forecasts of most thinkers—is that it is based on the groundbreaking research taking place in labs today, as well as the consensus of over 150 of Kaku's scientific colleagues. Science, for all its breathtaking change, evolves slowly; we can accurately predict, asserts Kaku, what the direction of science will be, based on the paths that are being forged today.

A thrilling, unique narrative that brings together the thinking of many of the world's most accomplished scientists to explore the world of the future, Visions is science writing at its best.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Critical acclaim for Michio Kaku's previous book, Hyperspace:

"Among the best of its genre to appear in recent years...What a wonderful adventure it is, trying to think the unthinkable!"
—The New York Times Book Review

"A roller coaster of an intellectual ride through the extraordinary world of black holes, wormholes, parallel universes, higher dimensions and time travel."
—Philadelphia Inquirer

"Mesmerizing...the reader exits dizzy, elated and looking at the world in a literally revolutionary way."
—Washington Post

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Exhibiting a rare clarity of scientific thought and exposition, this brilliant futurist catalogue from the renowned physicist and author of the much-praised Hyperspace (1994) convincingly predicts where the next hundred years of technological advancement will take us. Science, for Kaku, is on the verge of a new age in which the once separate "Three Pillars of Modern Science"quantum physics, computer science and biotechnologywill converge, creating a startling synergy. The outcome will affect us right down to our DNA. We will make a technological and conceptual transition "from being observers of the dance of nature to becoming active choreographers" in a world of seamless human-computer interactions, where damaged, cancer-causing genes are repaired by molecular machines and where cyborgs will grow their own chips. But Kaku moves far beyond the usual futuristic fare of gadgets and gizmos, offering up the hard science principles and soft science social impact of the advances he describes. If there is one flaw here, it is that Kaku writes with a scientist's nearly unbounded optimism for the future. A careful reader will discern moral questions and responsibilities that Kaku fails to address adequately (for instance, whether immortality is in fact a worthy goal). Based in part on interviews with more than 150 scientists, many of them Nobel laureates, the book nevertheless offers a coherent and fully realized picture of our increasingly mediated future lives. It succeeds in drawing a time line for the appearance of everything from "wearable" computers to the tenth dimension, and it does so with clear-sighted analysis and a contagious sense of wonder. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Here's another entry in the game of predicting what science and technology will come up with after the turn of the millennium, this one from a theoretical physicist.

Kaku, author of Hyperspace (1994), defines his central thesis in a few words: We humans are about to make the transition "from being passive observers of Nature to active choreographers of Nature." He forecasts major breakthroughs in three specific areas: computer science, molecular biology, and quantum physics. While all three of these disciplines have already had a significant impact on our daily lives, Kaku finds a broad consensus among scientists, many of whom believe that everything we have seen so far is merely a prelude to what lies in store. In particular, while the development to date of these areas of science has been marked by extreme specialization, the 21st century is likely to be an age of synergy, in which each area builds on the discoveries of the others. On a 20-year time frame, computer chips will become smaller, cheaper, and almost ubiquitous; genetic therapy will have cured many diseases, possibly including most cancers. But beyond that point, it appears that fundamental bottlenecks in both computer science and molecular biology will necessitate new breakthroughs, many of which will derive from quantum physics. This may fuel a new round of technological innovations, among them artificial intelligence (a robot in every home), tailor-made organisms (new foods and medicines), nanotechnology, and new energy sources. Kaku does not ignore the potential downside of these developments, examining such nightmare scenarios as robot killing machines fighting future wars and a revived eugenics movement. But if all goes well, says Kaku, we may well develop into a true planetary society, the first step toward making the entire universe our home.

With this fascinating volume, Kaku positions himself as a worthy successor to the late Carl Sagan as a spokesman for the potential of science to revolutionize our lives.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385484992
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ANCHOR
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 276,309
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Michio Kaku is the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York.  Cofounder of string field theory, he is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Hyperspace, as well as Beyond Einstein (with Jennifer Thompson), Quantum Field Theory: A Modern Introduction, and Introduction to Superstrings.  He hosts an hour-long weekly radio science program that is nationally syndicated.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Choreographers of Matter, Life, and Intelligence

"There are three great themes in science in the twentieth century—the atom, the computer, and the gene."

—Harold Varmus, NIH Director

"Prediction is very hard, especially when it's about the future."

—Yogi Berra

Three centuries ago, Isaac Newton wrote: ". . . to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on a seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."  When Newton surveyed the vast ocean of truth which lay before him, the laws of nature were shrouded in an impenetrable veil of mystery, awe, and superstition.  Science as we know it did not exist.

Life in Newton's time was short, cruel, and brutish.  People were illiterate for the most part, never owned a book or entered a classroom, and rarely ventured beyond several miles of their birthplace.  During the day, they toiled at backbreaking work in the fields under a merciless sun.  At night, there was usually no entertainment or relief to comfort them except the empty sounds of the night.  Most people knew firsthand the gnawing pain of hunger and chronic, debilitating disease.  Most people would live not much longer than age thirty, and would see many of their ten or so children die in infancy.

But the few wondrous shells and pebbles picked up by Newton and other scientists on the seashore helped to trigger a marvelous chain of events.  A profound transformation occurred in human society.  With Newton's mechanics came powerful machines, and eventually the steam engine, the motive force which reshaped the world by overturning agrarian society, spawning factories and stimulating commerce, unleashing the industrial revolution, and opening up entire continents with the railroad.

By the nineteenth century, a period of intense scientific discovery was well underway.  Remarkable advances in science and medicine helped to lift people out of wretched poverty and ignorance, enrich their lives, empower them with knowledge, open their eyes to new worlds, and eventually unleash complex forces which would topple the feudal dynasties, fiefdoms, and empires of Europe.

By the end of the twentieth century, science had reached the end of an era, unlocking the secrets of the atom, unraveling the molecule of life, and creating the electronic computer.  With these three fundamental discoveries, triggered by the quantum revolution, the DNA revolution, and the computer revolution, the basic laws of matter, life, and computation were, in the main, finally solved.

That epic phase of science is now drawing to a close; one era is ending and another is only beginning.

This book is about this new dynamic era of science and technology which is now unfolding before our eyes.  It focuses on science in the next 100 years, and beyond.  The next era of science promises to be an even deeper, more thoroughgoing, more penetrating one than the last.

Clearly, we are on the threshold of yet another revolution.  Human knowledge is doubling every ten years.  In the past decade, more scientific knowledge has been created than in all of human history.  Computer power is doubling every eighteen months.  The Internet is doubling every year.  The number of DNA sequences we can analyze is doubling every two years.  Almost daily, the headlines herald new advances in computers, telecommunications, biotechnology, and space exploration.  In the wake of this technological upheaval, entire industries and lifestyles are being overturned, only to give rise to entirely new ones.  But these rapid, bewildering changes are not just quantitative.  They mark the birth pangs of a new era.

Today, we are again like children walking on the seashore.  But the ocean that Newton knew as a boy has largely disappeared.  Before us lies a new ocean, the ocean of endless scientific possibilities and applications, giving us the potential for the first time to manipulate and mold these forces of Nature to our wishes.

For most of human history, we could only watch, like bystanders, the beautiful dance of Nature.  But today, we are on the cusp of an epochmaking transition, from being passive observers of Nature to being active choreographers of Nature.  It is this tenet that forms the central message of Visions.  The era now unfolding makes this one of the most exciting times to be alive, allowing us to reap the fruits of the last 2,000 years of science.  The Age of Discovery in science is coming to a close, opening up an Age of Mastery.

Emerging Consensus Among Scientists

What will the future look like?  Science fiction writers have sometimes made preposterous predictions about the decades ahead, from vacationing on Mars to banishing all diseases.  And even in the popular press, all too often an eccentric social critic's individual prejudices are substituted for the consensus within the scientific community.  (ln 1996, for example, The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to life in the next 100 years.  Journalists, sociologists, writers, fashion designers, artists, and philosophers all submitted their thoughts.  Remarkably, not a single scientist was consulted.)

The point here is that predictions about the future made by professional scientists tend to be based much more substantially on the realities of scientific knowledge than those made by social critics, or even those by scientists of the past whose predictions were made before the fundamental scientific laws were completely known.

It is, I think, an important distinction between Visions, which concerns an emerging consensus among the scientists themselves, and the predictions in the popular press made almost exclusively by writers, journalists, sociologists, science fiction writers, and others who are consumers of technology, rather than by those who have helped to shape and create it.  (One is reminded of the prediction made by Admiral William Leahy to President Truman in 1945: "That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. . . .  The [atomic] bomb will never go off, and I will speak as an expert in explosives."  The admiral, like many "futurists" today, was substituting his own prejudices for the consensus of physicists working on the bomb.)

As a research physicist, I believe that physicists have been particularly successful at predicting the broad outlines of the future.  Professionally, I work in one of the most fundamental areas of physics, the quest to complete Einstein's dream of a "theory of everything."  As a result, I am constantly reminded of the ways in which quantum physics touches many of the key discoveries that shaped the twentieth century.

In the past, the track record of physicists has been formidable: we have been intimately involved with introducing a host of pivotal inventions (TV, radio, radar, X-rays, the transistor, the computer, the laser, the atomic bomb), decoding the DNA molecule, opening new dimensions in probing the body with PET, MRI, and CAT scans, and even designing the Internet and the World Wide Web.  Physicists are by no means seers who can foretell the future (and we certainly haven't been spared our share of silly predictions!).  Nonetheless, it is true that some of the shrewd observations and penetrating insights of leading physicists in the history of science have opened up entirely new fields.

There undoubtedly will be some astonishing surprises, twists of fate, and embarrassing gaps in this vision of the future: I will almost inevitably overlook some important inventions and discoveries of the twenty-first century.  But by focusing on the interrelations between the three great scientific revolutions, and by consulting with the scientists who are actively bringing about this revolution and examining their discoveries, it is my hope that we can see the direction of science in the future with considerable insight and accuracy.

Over the past ten years, while working on this book, I have had the rare privilege of interviewing over 150 scientists, including a good many Nobel Laureates, in part during the course of preparing a weekly national science radio program and producing science commentaries.

These are the scientists who are tirelessly working in the trenches, who are laying the foundations of the twenty-first century, many of whom are opening up new avenues and vistas for scientific discovery.  In these interviews, as well as through my own work and research, I was able to go back over the vast panorama of science laid out before me and draw from a wide variety of expertise and knowledge.  These scientists have graciously opened their offices and their laboratories and shared their most intimate scientific ideas with me.  In this book, I've tried to return the favor by capturing the raw excitement and vitality of their scientific discoveries, for it is essential to instill the romance and excitement of science in the general public, especially the young, if democracy is to remain a vibrant and resonating force in an increasingly technological and bewildering world.

The fact is that there is a rough consensus emerging among those engaged in research about how the future will evolve.  Because the laws behind the quantum theory, computers, and molecular biology are now well established, it is possible for scientists to generally predict the paths of scientific progress in the future.  This is the central reason why the predictions made here, I feel, are more accurate than those of the past.

What is emerging is the following.

The Three Pillars of Science

Matter.  Life.  The Mind.

These three elements form the pillars of modern science.  Historians will most likely record that the crowning achievement of twentieth-century science was unraveling the basic components underlying these three pillars, culminating in the splitting of the nucleus of the atom, the decoding of the nucleus of the cell, and the development of the electronic computer.  With our basic understanding of matter and life largely complete, we are witnessing the close of one of the great chapters in the history of science.  (This does not mean that all the laws of these three pillars are completely known, only the most fundamental.  For example, although the laws of electronic computers are well known, only some of the basic laws of artificial intelligence and the brain are known.)

The first of these twentieth-century revolutions was the quantum revolution, the most fundamental of all.  It was the quantum revolution that later helped to spawn the two other great scientific revolutions, the biomolecular revolution and the computer revolution.

The Quantum Revolution

Since time immemorial, people have speculated what the world was made of.  The Greeks thought that the universe was made of four elements: water, air, earth, and fire.  The philosopher Democritus believed that even these could be broken down into smaller units, which he called "atoms."  But attempts to explain how atoms could create the vast, wondrous diversity of matter we see in Nature always faltered.  Even Newton, who discovered the cosmic laws which guided the motion of planets and moons, was at a loss to explain the bewildering nature of matter.

All this changed in 1925 with the birth of the quantum theory, which has unleashed a thundering tidal wave of scientific discovery that continues to surge unabated to this day.  The quantum revolution has now given us an almost complete description of matter, allowing us to describe the seemingly infinite multiplicity of matter we see arrayed around us in terms of a handful of particles, in the same way that a richly decorated tapestry is woven from a few colored strands.

The quantum theory, created by Erwin Schr&#247dinger, Werner Heisenberg, and many others, reduced the mystery of matter to a few postulates.  First, that energy is not continuous, as the ancients thought, but occurs in discrete bundles, called "quanta."  (The photon, for example, is a quantum or packet of light.)  Second, that subatomic particles have both particle and wavelike qualities, obeying a well-defined equation, the celebrated Schr&#247dinger wave equation, which determines the probability that certain events occur.  With this equation, we can mathematically predict the properties of a wide variety of substances before creating them in the laboratory.  The culmination of the quantum theory is the Standard Model, which can predict the properties of everything from tiny subatomic quarks to giant supernovas in outer space.

In the twentieth century, the quantum theory has given us the ability to understand the matter we see around us.  In the next century, the quantum revolution may open the door to the next step: the ability to manipulate and choreograph new forms of matter, almost at will.

The Computer Revolution

ln the past, computers were mathematical curiosities; they were supremely clumsy, messy contraptions, consisting of a complex mass of gears, levers, and cogs.  During World War II, mechanical computers were replaced by vacuum tubes, but they were also monstrous in size, filling up entire rooms with racks of thousands of vacuum tubes.

The turning point came in 1948, when scientists at Bell Laboratories discovered the transistor, which made possible the modern computer.  A decade after that, the laser was discovered, which is essential to the Internet and the information highway.  Both are quantum mechanical devices.

In the quantum theory, electricity can be understood as the movement of electrons, just as droplets of water can make a river.  But one of the surprises of the quantum theory is that there are "bubbles" or "holes" in the current, corresponding to vacancies in electron states, which act as if they are electrons with positive charge.  The motion of these currents of both holes and electrons allows transistors to amplify tiny electrical signals, which forms the basis of modern electronics.

Today, tens of millions of transistors can be crammed into an area the size of a fingernail.  In the future, our lifestyles will be irrevocably changed when microchips become so plentiful that intelligent systems are dispersed by the millions into all parts of our environment.

In the past, we could only marvel at the precious phenomenon called intelligence; in the future, we will be able to manipulate it according to our wishes.

The Biomolecular Revolution

Historically, many biologists were influenced by the theory of "vitalism"—i.e., that a mysterious "life force" or substance animated living things.  This view was challenged when Schr&#247dinger, in his 1944 book What Is Life?, dared to claim that life could be explained by a "genetic code" written on the molecules within a cell.  It was a bold idea: that the secret of life could be explained by using the quantum theory.

James Watson and Francis Crick, inspired by Schr&#247dinger's book, eventually proved his conjecture by using X-ray crystallography.  By analyzing the pattern of X-rays scattered off a DNA molecule, they were able to reconstruct the detailed atomic struc

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1 Choreographers of Matter, Life, and Intelligence 3
Ch. 2 The Invisible Computer 23
Ch. 3 The Intelligent Planet 43
Ch. 4 Machines That Think 70
Ch. 5 Beyond Silicon: Cyborgs and the Ultimate Computer 99
Ch. 6 Second Thoughts: Will Humans Become Obsolete? 118
Ch. 7 Personal DNA Codes 139
Ch. 8 Conquering Cancer - Fixing Our Genes 162
Ch. 9 Molecular Medicine and the Mind/Body Link 181
Ch. 10 To Live Forever? 200
Ch. 11 Playing God: Designer Children and Clones 220
Ch. 12 Second Thoughts: The Genetics of a Brave New World? 241
Ch. 13 The Quantum Future 265
Ch. 14 To Reach for the Stars 295
Ch. 15 Toward a Planetary Civilization 322
Ch. 16 Masters of Space and Time 338
Notes 356
Recommended Reading 389
Index 394
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2005

    A thought-provoking book

    This is my favorite Kaku book. He maintains his always crystal clear style with an added personal touch this time around.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 8, 2013

    Worth checking out!

    Michio Kaku is one of my favorite physicist. This is the first book of his that I have read and I plan to read more. Visions is a little dated since it was originally published in 1997. However, It was interesting to see what predictions were correct and which have still not quite happened yet. Either way, Dr. Kaku's writing is clear, interesting and brings science to life. You don't have to be a physicist to understand the concepts Dr. Kaku explores.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)