The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything

The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything

by Marcus Chown
The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything

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Overview

The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything by Marcus Chown

Why the force that keeps our feet on the ground holds the key to understanding the nature of time and the origin of the universe.

Gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet it is the strongest force in the universe. It was the first force to be recognized and described yet it is the least understood. It is a "force" that keeps your feet on the ground yet no such force actually exists.

Gravity, to steal the words of Winston Churchill, is "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." And penetrating that enigma promises to answer the biggest questions in science: what is space? What is time? What is the universe? And where did it all come from?

Award-winning writer Marcus Chown takes us on an unforgettable journey from the recognition of the "force" of gravity in 1666 to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. And, as we stand on the brink of a seismic revolution in our worldview, he brings us up to speed on the greatest challenge ever to confront physics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681775944
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 316,647
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Marcus Chown is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. Formerly a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he is currently cosmology consultant of the weekly science magazine New Scientist. He is the author of Solar System, Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You, The Never-Ending Days of Being Dead, and The Magic Furnace. He lives in England.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xiii

Foreword: Six things you may not know about gravity xv

Author's note xix

Part 1 Newton

1 The Moon is falling 3

How Newton found the first universal law - one that applies in all places and at all times

2 The last of the magicians 28

How Newton created a system of the world and found the key to understanding the Universe

3 Beware the tides of March 36

How Newton's theory of gravity is rich in consequences and can explain not only the motion of the planets but also the tides in the oceans

4 Map of the invisible world 68

How Newton's law of gravity not only explains what we see but also reveals what we cannot see

Part 2 Einstein

5 Catch me if you can 93

How Einstein realised that nothing can travel faster than light and that this is incompatible with Newton's law of gravity

6 Ode to a falling man 117

How Einstein realised that the 'force' of gravity is an illusion and all there really is is warped space-time

7 Where God divided by zero 152

How Einstein's theory of gravity predicts daft things at the 'singularity' of a black hole and how a deeper theory is needed that doesn't

Part 3 Beyond Einstein

8 A quantum of space-time 173

How quantum theory implies that space and time are doomed and must somehow emerge from something more fundamental

9 The undiscovered country 193

The struggle to find a deeper theory than Einstein's theory of gravity that will tell us why there is a Universe and where it came from

Notes 225

Index 257

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