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Gravity: How the Weakest Force in the Universe Shaped Our Lives

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312616298
ISBN-10: 0312616295
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gravity is one of the most accepted laws of science. Drop an object and it falls to earth because of the attraction between the earth and the object. What alerts the earth and the object to act? Is there a sort of communication between them? Theoretical physicists have struggled to explain gravitational attraction over distance since Einstein posed his theories of special and general relativity. Quantum theory, string theory, M theory, and other theoretical inquiries have failed to solve the riddle. In his history of gravity from the Big Bang to the present, popular science author Clegg recounts international efforts to understand what is thought to be the weakest yet most essential force holding the universe together. Black holes, warps in space and time, and antimatter are featured in this wide-ranging account, which will be of interest to science students and readers of science fiction. --Rick Roche


"Although by far the feeblest of the four universal forces, gravity is the only one we experience continuously. Every inquisitive person should read a book about it, preferably this one . . . Clegg's skills never flag and his account remains lucid and free of jargon, bad jokes, and math phobia."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Clegg's accessible presentation offers insight into everything from Aristotelian science to black holes and string theory as it reveals the complexities and surprise of a familiar force that continues to surprise scientists."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312616295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312616298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian's most recent books are Dice World and Extra Sensory. He has written a range of other science titles, including the bestselling Inflight Science, The God Effect, Before the Big Bang, Ecologic, A Brief History of Infinity and Build Your Own Time Machine.

Along with appearances at the Royal Institution in London he has spoken at venues from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to Cheltenham Festival of Science, has contributed to radio and TV programmes, and is a popular speaker at schools. Brian is also editor of the successful book review site and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Brian has Masters degrees from Cambridge University in Natural Sciences and from Lancaster University in Operational Research, a discipline originally developed during the Second World War to apply the power of mathematics to warfare. It has since been widely applied to problem solving and decision making in business.

Brian has also written regular columns, features and reviews for numerous publications, including Nature, The Guardian, PC Week, Computer Weekly, Personal Computer World, The Observer, Innovative Leader, Professional Manager, BBC History, Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful. His books have been translated into many languages, including German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Norwegian, Thai and even Indonesian.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keith H. Bray on December 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to write a review after concurrently finishing The Edge of the Universe, The Particle at the End of the Universe, and Brian Clegg's fine book Gravity--the latter two books are highly recommended both deserving of forthcoming reviews. One will find a large crossover between the contents Clegg's book and the Caroll's The Particle at the End of the Universe.

Brian Clegg has written a very interesting and popular level book for semi-initiated science readers. Indeed, most of the contents of this book should be familiar as gravity has been the driving force behind the success of Newtonian physics and Einstein's subsequent general theory of relativity. And, of course the Holy Grail for gravity is now the "search" for a quantum theory of gravity, a theory of everything by another name. What makes Clegg's standout from other books that mention the same issues, however, is written in an enjoyable and logical style. As the previous review does not say too much by way of the contents of the chapters, it is here that I will briefly turn my attentions.

The book is premised on the importance of gravity, not only for our daily lives but for the history of science, both issues that comprise chapter 1. The chapters are small and self-contained, meaning that a subsequent chapter is not premised on reading the previous chapter.

Chapters 2 through 5 look at the development and treatment of the gravity and the cosmos, from Aristotle to Ptolemy to Galileo until the reader reaches Newton. Most of this information can be gleaned from other popular level science books, but that in no way detracts from Clegg's writing style which enables the reader to easily follow the contents, and easy to memorize which is unspoken goal for many readers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Book Fanatic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting book. It is well written and will be compelling to those with a general interest in science like myself. The author, Brian Clegg, has done a fine job of describing what is known and what is not about this mysterious force that is at once obvious to everyone, works at a distance, and yet continues to frustrate the most brilliant scientists who work to explain it.

This book traces the history of the ideas and theories of gravity from the ancient Greeks to the present with string theory, twister theory, loop quantum gravity, and more. He discusses the so far failed attempts to detect gravity waves and the never ending quest for an anti-gravity machine. The book is very informative and I definitely learned from it.

This is a fairly easy read and quite accessible to any reader with an interest and basic understanding of science. It's fascinating and informative and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Easily recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Brone on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The title is Gravity, but this book, of necessity, spreads it's intellectual inquiry into other subjects that are at the very heart of what makes this universe. The author does this because gravity is not an isolated thing. It is interconnected with the other basic forces that made this world.
One interesting thing I learned from this book is that gravity may not be smoothly continuous. It may be made up of quantum bits. If so, this could mean that there is no singularity at the heart of a black hole. Also, there are several fundamental candidate theories about the universe mentioned in this book of which I was not aware. The book contains plenty of other intellectual surprises.
Also, I think it's sad that I have to make a point of noting that the author of this book actually knows how to write.
There are plenty of other books out there where you have to wonder what was the editor thinking when he or she
agreed to publish a book by some hack of an author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Wallace on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am fascinated by gravity. I would like to understand not just how to accurately calculate its magnitude by Newton's formula or Enstein's General Relativity, I would like to understand how space-time is actually deformed by mass. How is the information that mass is present transmitted to space-time. So, I was disappointed that I didn't really learn anything new in Brian Clegg's book. I did not get my questions answered. The book begins with an interesting historical summary of theories of gravity. He eventually gets to general relativity. I didn't really learn anything new. If one does not have an understanding of Newtonian gravity then this book would be interesting. If one has never read about the development of general relativity, then the history is interesting. For readers who have previously read about Newton and Einstein, there is little new material. There is a very brief mention of quantum gravity and modified theories of gravity that may preclude the need for the invention of dark matter, but the word brief is important. This book is aimed directly at the non-mathematical science enthusiast who wants a historical perspective on gravity and is satisfied with a very limited description of general relativity or other modified theories of gravity. No math is provided. There are brief descriptions of gravitons without much discussion. I didn't get my questions on the mechanism for the deformation of space-time by mass, explained.
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