Gravity: Why What Goes Up, Must Come Down

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A history of gravity, and a study of it's importance and relevance to our lives, as well as it's influence on other areas of science. Physicists will tell you that four forces control the universe. Of these, gravity may the most obvious, but it is also the most mysterious. Newton managed to predict the force of gravity but couldn’t explain how it worked at a distance. Einstein picked up on the simple premise that gravity and acceleration are interchangeable to devise his mind-bending general relativity, showing how matter warps space and time. Not only did this explain how gravity worked – and how apparently simple gravitation has four separate components – but it predicted everything from black holes to gravity’s effect on time. Whether it’s the reality of anti-gravity or the unexpected discovery that a ball and a laser beam drop at the same rate, gravity is the force that fascinates.

Everything we know is governed by four physical forces, but there is only one of them that is immediately obvious - gravity. Although ludicrously weak compared to the other forces (a tiny magnet can hold up a piece of metal against the gravitational attraction of the whole Earth), gravity permeates our everyday life and being. We begin with humanity's earliest ideas of how we remain stuck to the ground - a significant consideration when you realize that despite the myths, educated people have known the Earth was a sphere since the time of the Ancient Greeks.

Along the way we'll see how the Arabic scholars explained the force of gravity, why Galileo didn't need to drop balls off the tower of Pisa, exactly how Newton came to his conclusions and why he refused to 'frame hypotheses' about gravity.

We will explore the concept of action at a distance, and see how Einstein transformed our understanding of gravitation with general relativity and consider whether the graviton will ever be discovered. We will see how birds, bees and rockets seem to defy gravity, and whether the concept of anti-gravity can move from pure science fiction to possible fact.

Gravity never fails to fascinate...

More Information
AuthorBrian Clegg
PublisherDuckworth Overlook
ConditionVery Good
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