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Gravity Paperback – June 23, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A renowned physicist and author of the bestseller One Two Three . . . Infinity, George Gamow is one of the founders of the Big Bang theory.

Modern Science Made Easy
By one of the leading physicists of the twentieth century, George Gamow's One, Two, Three…Infinity is one of the most memorable popular books on physics, mathematics, and science generally ever written, famous for having, directly or indirectly, launched the academic and/or scientific careers of many young people whose first real encounter with the wonders and mysteries of mathematics and science was through reading this book as a teenager. Untypically for popular science books, this one is enhanced by the author's own delightful sketches. Reviewers were enthusiastic when One, Two, Three…Infinity was published in 1947.

In the Author's Own Words:
"If and when all the laws governing physical phenomena are finally discovered, and all the empirical constants occurring in these laws are finally expressed through the four independent basic constants, we will be able to say that physical science has reached its end, that no excitement is left in further explorations, and that all that remains to a physicist is either tedious work on minor details or the self-educational study and adoration of the magnificence of the completed system. At that stage physical science will enter from the epoch of Columbus and Magellan into the epoch of the National Geographic Magazine!" — George Gamow

Critical Acclaim for One, Two, Three…Infinity:
"This skillful presentation is for the non-professional and professional scientist. It will broaden the knowledge of each and give the imagination wide play." — Chemistry and Engineering News

"A stimulating and provocative book for the science-minded layman." — Kirkus Reviews

"This is a layman's book as readable as a historical novel, but every chapter bears the solid imprint of authoritative research." — San Francisco Chronice

"George Gamow succeeds where others fail because of his remarkable ability to combine technical accuracy, choice of material, dignity of expression, and readability." — Saturday Review of Literature

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: BN Publishing (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607961482
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607961482
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
George Gamow was a leading scientist of the 20th century, a man who's name frequents the pages of modern-day science. One of the great services offered by Dover Books is the manner in which they have made timeless books by the world's great scientists available at a reasonable price. I consider it remarkable that, for a few dollars, I could sit at Gamow's feet by reading "Gravity."

This is a short book, barely 150 pages long. Written in the second half the 20th century (1960s) it doesn't have any new or particularly earth-shattering information, but information content isn't always the best way to measure a book; there's the delivery, too. And this book, this little gem, has one of the best deliveries I've seen. That's what I appreciated most about "Gravity," the nuances of Gamow's writing and explanatory style.

Several weeks before I found Gamow's book in the bookstore, I'd planned a solo kayak trip down the Columbia River, from the town of Saint Helens to the Pacific Ocean. I was looking for something to read during breaks, and in the evening. This is an ideal book for leisure reading, it's not too involved, has very little mathematics, and yet has enough intellectual content that it leaves you feeling accomplished after an hour or two of study. If you've ever picked up a copy of Scientific American magazine and read some of the articles, that'll give you a pretty good idea of what's in this book. In fact, some of the material in the book is based on articles written by Gamow for Scientific American. My copy, stained with river water, has bleached, tattered, dog-eared pages.
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Format: Paperback
A lovely reprinted Dover edition of a peral from Gamow. The original 1962 edition has been out of print for a number of years. This 2003 edition has added commentary and a fascinating bio of Gamow. He was born in Odessa, in what was then Russia, --before the Soviet Union. The story of his escape to the West is straight out of a thriller. Only it is real! Gamow was referred to by a journalist, some time during the Cold War, as "the only scientist in America with a real sense of humor". He can take the most technical stuff and make it simple. Fun too! The book:--Intellectual treats, whimsy, but deep. Illustrated with lovely drawings by Gamow himself. Much of it can be understood by a child, and other parts might require a little concentration. All of it is great fun. The author Gamow started in nuclear physics, during the Golden Age of Physics, worked with Niels Bohr, then later in the US, on the Manhattan Project during WWII, and after the war, he was professor in Boulder Colorado. He has a building on campus named after him! The books he wrote are pearls, and they have been equally popular with my parent's generation as with mine. Luckely some have been reprinted! Other Gamow titles: Biography of Physics, Atomic Energy [dedicated to the hope of lasting peace], Physics of the Strapless Evning Gown,...We are lucky that Dover has reprinted some of them. Gamow's list of scientific accomplishments includes a 1948 landmark paper on the origin of chemical elements, the Big Bang model, and later work with F. Crick on DNA and genetic coding.-- Do more Gamow editions, Dover!
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I really loved Gamow's 123 Infinity when I read it over 30 years ago -- so I had similar expectations when I picked up Gravity -- and thirty years ago, it probably was a five-star book.

Most of the book deals with Galileo and Newton -- at a level of detail comparable to high-school physics -- a more contemporary book about physics for the layman might be a better bet for this part since other topics would be covered as well.

There's one chapter about relativity -- and a final chapter about unresolved issues, with understandably very outdated material here. For someone with a basic working knowledge of classical gravitation, a book like "Einstein for Dummies" is probably a better investment if you're trying to develop a basic understanding of special and general relativity.

However, if someone only wanted to read one book about gravity and had no real working knowledge of math or physics, and had no desire to learn anything beyond the basics, then this is still a four or five-star book.
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Format: Paperback
I expected that this book would be a nice present for a high school student and it surely fits that bill. What I did not expect was that it would also be useful to college and perhaps even graduate students.

Gamow was an important physicist, with many contributions to the development of quantum mechanics. He was also the author of several general interest science books, such as this one. The book begins with two chapters devoted to gravity as seen by Galileo and Newton and a chapter discussing the elements of calculus. These chapters are great for any interested high school student. They are clearly written and should be easily understood at that level. The calculus chapter is nice in that it derives calculus in a practical manner, without the rigorous proofs that tend to bedevil students and make them hate math.

The first three chapters, while interesting, have little to offer to a college student, let alone to a graduate student. This changed in the next three chapters, which cover planetary orbits, the tides and celestial mechanics. These chapters are not meant to be rigorous or complete treatments, but they should be of some interest to college students as well as providing an understandable treatment for those with less schooling. The planetary orbit chapter covers, among other things, the precession of earths orbit, a topic generally only covered in an advanced mechanics course, typically taught as an upper level college or graduate school course. The treatment is nonmathematical and is definitely not rigorous, but it is much clearer than the presentation that is given in some advanced mechanics books, such as Goldstein's "Classical Mechanics".
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