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The Physics of Star Trek

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"Today's science fiction is often tomorrow's science fact. The physics that underlies Star Trek is surely worth investigating. To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit."
– from the foreword by Stephen Hawking
From the book jacket
  • What warps when you're traveling at warp speed?
  • What's the difference between the holodeck and a hologram?
  • What happens when you get beamed up?
  • What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole?
  • What is antimatter, and why does the Enterprise need it?
  • Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born?
Discover the answers to these and many other fascinating questions as a renowned physicist and dedicated Trekker explores The Physics of Star Trek.
Featuring a section on the top ten physics bloopers and blunders in Star Trek as selected by Nobel Prize-winning physicists and other devout Trekkers!

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


  • Foreword by Stephen Hawking
  • Preface

Section One

A Cosmic Poker Game
In which the physics of inertial dampers and tractor beams paves the way for time travel, warp speed, deflector shields, wormholes, and other space-time oddities.

Section Two

Matter, Matter Everywhere
In which the reader explores transporter beams, warp drives, dilithium crystals, matter-antimatter engines, and the holodeck.
  • Atoms or Bits
  • The Most Bang for Your Buck
  • Holodecks and Holograms

Section Three

The Invisible Universe, or Things That Go Bump in the Night
In which we speak of things that may exist but are not yet seen – extraterrestrial life, multiple dimensions, and an exotic zoo of other physics possibilities and impossibilities.
  • The Search for Spock
  • The Menagerie of Possibilities
  • Impossibilities: The Undiscoverable Country
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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