By Chet Yarbrough
By Michio Kaku
Narrated by Marc Vietor
Michio Kaku (American physicist, author, professor)
Michio Kaku valiantly tilts Don Quixote’s lance at physics in writing “Parallel Worlds”. The fictional Quixote quests for knowledge as a knight errant. Michao Kaku pursues knowledge as a renowned physicist. Time will tell if Kaku is a errant physicist or a clarion of knowledge.
This is a book about Physics, the baffling science of mathematics, and those who wish to understand why Newton, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Michael Green, and Ed Schwarz et al are important to all of us who are confused.
In spite of the abstruse subject, Kaku reveals some understandable break through discoveries in cosmology, and mankind’s pursuit of the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is a unified field theory that explains everything there is to know about matter and energy in one combinatoric theory.
Physicists continue to search for a theory that will explain how electromagnetic, gravitational, weak, and strong forces follow one fundamental rule of existence.
Einstein’s theory of special relativity, implies predictability. Quantum mechanics exclusively relies on probability. How can these two fundamentally different rules be made into one theory?
Contrary to Einstein’s belief that “God does not play with dice”, God lives in Las Vegas.
On a subatomic level, repeatable experiments show that it is impossible to predict the exact position of an electron. With measurement of either position or energy of an electron, its location or power is changed. Electron movement is unpredictable by any known criteria of measurement.
Experimental proof of a theory demands measurement; without measurement, there is no proof. For example, one reason “string theory” is unproven is that the dimension of strings is too minuscule. Technology has not advanced enough for experimental proof. It does not make the theory wrong. It’s simply not experimentally provable.
The God question inevitably raises its head in sciences’ pursuit of a unified field theory. However, putting philosophical discussion aside, Kaku tells the story of Einstein’s unsuccessful pursuit of a unified field theory.
Einstein refuted some of Newton’s laws. Bohr refuted some of Einstein’s speculation. Their research leads to discoveries that only a science fiction writer could conceive. Bohr introduces quantum mechanics to Einstein’s discovery of the interchangeability of energy and mass.
With science pursuing the universe’s origin and its component makeup, only telescopes like Hubble and CERN’s Hadron collider in Europe have made any progress in identifying dark matter or energy.
Smaller and smaller elements of matter and energy are discovered by scientists, but an estimated 75% of the known components of the world are unknown. Dark matter and dark energy make up that 75%. (Discovery of Higgs-bosun in 2012 is the most recent addition to component knowledge.)
Another hope of discovering a UFT in theoretical physics is Ed Schwarz’s and Michael Green’s string theory postulation.
Schwarz’s and Green’s theory provides a more inclusive categorization of the basic elements of the world. Kaku describes string theory in terms of a stringed instrument that changes the character of matter by shortening or lengthening strings.
Just as Einstein’s theory of the curvature of space-time is not proven until Stanley Eddington’s measurement of an eclipse in 1919,
Swartz and Green wait for technology to catch up. String theory waits for another Eddington.
When the strings are plucked they resonate at different frequencies. That change in vibration changes the elemental nature of the particle even though the string is fundamentally the same.
String theory, if it proves correct, opens many doors in the sub-microscopic world. It opens to the speculation of possible parallel worlds. Kaku overwhelms listeners with the potential of a scientifically verifiable unified field theory. He suggests the possibility of time travel and space exploration through black holes and white holes.
“Parallel Worlds” ends its exploration of physics with notes of caution and optimism about our world’s progress. The book is semi-understandable (possibly, horribly misleading) but worth reading.