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David Darling

Gravity's arc

The ancients thought they understood gravity. Things had a tendency to fall down and that was that. But as time goes on this pervasive force seems to become more and more mysterious. In 'Gravity's arc' David Darling traces our understanding of gravity from the earliest times right up to 2006. The book is written in an easy to read style and requires no prior knowledge on the part of the reader. I've a feeling that more knowledgable readers might find it a bit pedestrian. Some books are written so as to be interesting to all levels of reader, but I'm not sure that this is one of them. On the other hand, if you want a bit of light reading and to catch up on some of the latest results concerning gravity at the same time then this book is eminently suitable.

The book starts with the ideas of Aristotle and then examines how the work of Galileo, Kepler and Newton formed a new view of gravity. It goes on to look at the concept of escape velocity and space travel. Then we get to the anomalies of gravity. There's the discovery of Neptune from its gravitational effect, and the more revolutionary General Relativistic effect on the orbit of Mercury. This leads on to the cosmological constant, black holes and gravitational radiation. These anomalies are now understood, but there is also a chapter on more puzzling graviational anomalies which are as yet unexplained. The book concludes with a look at recent ideas on dark energy and a look at possibilities for unifying gravity with quantum theory.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews