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Reinventing Gravity: A Physicist Goes Beyond Einstein Hardcover – September 30, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gravity has long been the problem child of physics, creating difficulties in finding a Theory of Everything. To complicate matters, most scientists believe that there is a mysterious, unidentified dark matter that makes up most of the universe, and that an equally baffling dark energy is pushing the universe apart. Moffat, an affiliate member of the cutting-edge Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, has developed a new theory that he calls Modified Gravity (MOG). Moffat says that both Newton and Einstein were wrong, and that Newton's gravitational constant is not constant across distances as large as galaxies and galaxy clusters. Scientists haven't been able to find dark matter because it doesn't exist: MOG values help account for rates of galaxy rotation. Perhaps more revolutionary is Moffat's claim that black holes don't exist either. His theory predicts a grey star, a massive object with many but not all of the properties of a black hole. Moffat's theory thus far has withstood many objections. If MOG stands the test of time, Moffat will have created a paradigm shift not seen since Newton. Illus. (Oct.)
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As a young man, [Moffat] corresponded with Einstein about the latter's lifelong effort to generalize his theory of gravity and combine it into a single theory with the other forces. Moffat has been pursuing Einstein's ambition ever since... Physicists have reluctantly accepted ...anomalies for the sake of preserving Einstein's venerable theory of gravity... Moffat cuts the Gordian knot, proposing a Modified Gravity Theory, or MOG... It's a bold theory... (The Boston Globe)

If evidence of [Modified Gravity Theory] is eventually found, Moffat will be hailed as one of the great physicists of our age... At the very least, Moffat has shown remarkable perseverance and an exceptional ability to 'think outside the box.' And his book--elegantly written, though occasionally challenging--provides a compelling insider's view of modern physics. (The Globe and Mail)

Readers will easily follow the first-time author's lucid prose as he lays out the story of gravitation research from... Newton to Einstein ... solid, mainstream, popular science. (Kirkus)

... Moffat does away with two of the more appealing elements of standard cosmology: the Big Bang and black holes... Moffat is a fluid writer who does an excellent job of translating the complexity of Einstein's theory, without the math, for the general reader, and of selling his modified theory. (Winnipeg Free Press)

If MOG stands the test of time, Moffat will have created a paradigm shift not seen since Newton. (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian; First Edition edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061170887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061170881
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By parmenides on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well written book on some pressing issues in cosmology/astronomy
and gravity.

The author presents a complete historical view starting from Aristotle's physics
(including also the pioneering contributions of Aristarchos) and ending to his own contributions of asymmetric gravity theory. These are some major points:

(a) this book could easily be considered a layman's book on astronomy and cosmology,
since it has a nice introduction of structure formation, cosmic microwave background, as well quite lucid discussions of dark matter and energy

(b) the author is a down-to-earth scientist paying the due respect to data and
experience; his discussions on string theory and scientific method should be read by all young scientists, since they present the tradition that made science the central focus of our societies from the time of ancient greeks to present (as nicely depicted in the book)

(c) the various alternatives to general relativity are honestly presented with
nicely structured arguments and with a progressing degree of difficulty

(d) I did not like the complete absence of mathematics as well as the fact that
some of the discussions despite their honesty and insight did not treat some
important concepts with adequate detail and depth.

Overall, this is a book that everybody with interest in modern cosmology/gravity
could read with interest. I particularly recommend it for young people that
are thinking of following careers in science.
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Format: Hardcover
For amateurs interested in modern cosmology, this book is a fabulous treat. It poses all the problems and offers solutions that are empirically testable. No more dark matter. No more big bang. Wow!

Moffat's solutions derive from "MOG," or Modified Gravity theory. MOG, as Moffat explains, is similar to MOND, a modification of Newton's theory to accommodate observational data, such as the rapid rotation of galaxies. However, where as MOG has background independence as required by Einstein's theory of relativity, MOND does not. String theory does not have background independence either. So in this respect MOG is superior to both of these theories.

MOG eliminates the singularity at the centre of black holes. Hence, there is no event horizon surrounding the final state of a collapsed start, and no singularity at its centre. This nicely solves the black hole information-loss problem treated extensively in a recent book by Leonard Susskind.

MOG neatly handles the miracle of creation problem. No need to posit a big bang that defies the second law of thermodynamics. At the beginning of the MOG universe, both negative and positive time evolve with increasing entropy and cancel out.

MOG does not have dark matter, but instead posits a stronger gravity at the beginning of time than the standard model. The CMB does not need to arise from a big bang at all. In addition, the flatness and uniformity problem is solved by suggesting that the speed of light is not constant, but rather the ratio of G to c is. Hence, if G is stronger, c is faster, allowing all parts of the early universe to communicate.

I found that Moffat's book was best read in conjunction with Lee Smolin's recent book, "The Trouble with Physics." In his book, Smolin praises Moffat as a friend whom he respects for his boldness and originality. Perhaps they will write their next book together.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The kindle edition of this book, like all the other science books with math or other symbols offered in the kindle format, leaves much to be desired. There is no indication for superscripts, so that "ten to the power of forty" is presented as 1040, obscuring the context.
It is surprising to me that nobody checks this and the other science books when they are offered in kindle edition. No quality control whatsoever.
In terms of content, the book is wonderful (see other reviews). I also bought the paper version, because of the errors in the kindle version.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book written by a highly knowledgable physicist with 50 years of practice. It is equally accessible to both the interested amateur, such as myself, and to the serious student of physics who desires an overview to Moffat's theory of modified gravity.
I was already aware that Newton-Einstein theories of gravity fail to explain how galaxies hold together given the high velocities of their outer stars.
The mainstream explanation for the galaxy rotation question has been to postulate "dark matter" in enormous quantity - much larger than all visible matter. But the "dark matter" defies detection.
These theories also fail to explain the tiny deceleration anomalies of the planetary probes and the gravity waves of Einstein's theory have yet to be detected by the expensive LIGO instruments.
All this leads me to wonder if some paradigm shift in the theory of gravity is in the offing.
In essense that is what Moffat is introducing in this book, though serious students would need to read Moffat's papers in the refereed journals to gain a deep understanding of his model.
"Reinventing Gravity" has no math whatever - not one equation - which I consider a virtue. It is my view that the concepts of physics can always been described in words and diagrams, and I take for granted that the mathematical foundations of his theory have been proofed by peers in his published papers.
In the book's epilogue, the author states, "I hope that [you] have come away with a better understanding of how fundamental paradigms in physics are created, and the sociological and technical difficulties faced by those who attempt to shift established paradigms in science."
He succeeds very well in this regard, though as regards the "sociology" of physicists I was already aware of the dissing and clique behaviors that beset this elite group of highly erudite intellectuals.
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