We are going to switch gears away from comics for a second. I have been reading Clifford A. Pickover’s Surfing Through Hyperspace. This book is the fastest way to yet another mind blowing journey through things that seem more science fiction, but when the science starts to bring them in to the realm of possibility that is when the real fun begins. Needless to say if you want your mind blown sit down and start reading. Pickover has written a number of books on similar topics such as this one, almost all of his books deal with higher dimensions and mathematics in some way. What was interesting is that he has teamed up with Rudy Rucker (I read The Big Aha by him) to help write this book. Rucker is also a computer scientist and mathematician.
Pickover is quite the talented individual. He graduated from Yale and Franklin and Marshall College. His about the author at the end of the book was quite impressive. At the time the book was published, 1999, he contributed to quite a number of magazines as well as had written a number of books mostly dealing with this subject. Honestly he seems to have his hand in everything related to science and mathematics. The list is truly too long to write, he seems like he would be a very interesting guy to have a drink with. Probably one of the most extraordinary individuals of our time that not many people have heard of.
Ever since I read A Brief History of Time I have been interested in the 4th dimension, and that is the main area of focus in this book. It has always been such a bizarre aspect, one that myself along with I am sure many other have struggled with at great length. I have figured out, as was stated in the book that most people have a great deal of trouble when trying to visualize a 4 dimensional object. As the book states it is easier to visualize the same ideas for the higher dimensions but in 2 dimensions, or on a plane.
The book does give some great insights into the ideas of the 4th dimension, and a lot of new things that I had never thought of. It also helped to clear up some ideas that I had been struggling with, like how we would see a 4D being. At times it does get a little monotonous with the rehash of the same thing over and over again, driving home the ideas to a point. It did get a little annoying as Pickover would continue to explain the same thing over and over when a the first simple explanation was more than enough. But I forget that not everyone is as smart as I am and my not get the idea on the first time (I am totally joking by the way!)
Something I am on the fence about is that the book is about half facts and what you would expect from a science nonfiction book, while the other half is a story about two F.B.I agents. It is a sort of sify story to go along with all the science in the book. I think this idea is both good and bad. It helps to break up the claw your eyes out, bang your head against the wall science concepts that are very hard to grasp, esp. when the author gets into the math behind the ideas along with the formulas for hypercubes. On the other hand I think this mini sifi story make the book longer than is needs to be and honestly does not add any more to the overall concept. It does help explain some of the ideas in a little more detail but I feel this could have been done just as easily without all the other nonsense that came along with the sify story.
Truly the book is broken down into 3 parts, the nonfiction science part, the sifi story, and the notes and appendixes at the end. Once you finish the first two parts you may or may not want to look through the notes and appendixes at the end of the book. Some of it is beyond me as there is a lot of math and a computer coding exercise that I am not entirely sure what it is? In the rest of the appendix are some more ideas that were not touched on during the book or barely gone over. Some of it is very interesting, but like I said above most is very detailed math formulas and concepts that are well above my education level. There are a few puzzles as well and some trick questions, and even with the answers I did not totally understand what the author was getting at. If you are very interested in higher math you would love the later 3rd of this book.
Overall this is not a bad read. At times Pickover goes into way way too much detail with the math behind certain ideas. For the layreader this is over kill, but to a math and science junkie this book will make you feel right at home. I was expecting a little more on the insights of the 4th dimension from the book, but this could be due to the fact that I do not understand all the mathematical explanations in the book. I think this is a good place to start if you want to learn more about the 4th dimension. It really has something for everyone, no matter which end of the spectrum you are on. Check this one out if you have an interest in the higher dimensions.