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.

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Advance Praise for Gravity's Arc

""A beautifully written exposition of the still mysterious force that holds our universe together--and the even more mysterious dark twin that may blow it apart.""
--Joshua Gilder, coauthor of Heavenly Intrigue

""A lucid book as up-to-date as the effect of gravity on the bones of astronauts.""
--Denis Brian, author of The Unexpected Einstein

How did they do it?

How did one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived retard the study of gravity for 2,000 years? How did a gluttonous tyrant with a gold nose revolutionize our view of the solar system? How could an eccentric professor shake the foundations of an entire belief system by dropping two objects from a tower? How did a falling apple turn the thoughts of a reclusive genius toward the moon? And how could a simple patent clerk change our entire view of the universe by imagining himself riding on a beam of light?

In Gravity's Arc, you'll discover how some of the most colorful, eccentric, and brilliant people in history first locked, then unlocked the door to understanding one of nature's most essential forces. You'll find out why Aristotle's misguided conclusions about gravity became an unassailable part of Christian dogma, how Galileo slowed down time to determine how fast objects fall, and why Isaac Newton erased every mention of one man's name from his magnum opus Principia. You'll also figure out what Einstein meant when he insisted that space is curved, whether there is really such a thing as antigravity, and why some scientists think that the best way to get to outer space is by taking an elevator.