Gravity is one of the most inexplicable forces of nature, controlling everything, from the expansion of the Universe to the ebb and flow of ocean tides. The search for the laws of motion and gravitation began more than two thousand years ago, a quest that Prabhakar Gondhalekar recounts in The Grip of Gravity. Beginning with Aristotle and concluding with Planck, Gondhalekar outlines a 'genealogy' of gravity and lucidly explains how previous explanations have shaped the most recent development in the field, string theory. In this work, physicist and astronomer Gondhalekar describes experiments, both planned and proposed, and clearly explains natural phenomena like ocean tides, seasons, ice ages, the formation of planets, stars, and exotic objects like black holes and neutron stars, which are all controlled by gravity. Including anecdotes and thumb-nail sketches of the personalities involved, The Grip of Gravity provides an introduction to the foundation of modern physics and shows how the current developments in string theory may lead to a new and radical interpretation of gravity. Prabhakar Gondhalekar is an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College, London. Until his retirement in 1998, he was the head of the Space Astronomy Group at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where he had been a researcher for 18 years. His research has included a number of topics in galactic and extragalactic astronomy, with his major work focusing on the interstellar medium and active galactic nuclei. Gondhalekar has been awarded Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust, and NATO Research Fellowships to do research in universities in the United States and Israel.
'Astrophysicist Prabhakar Gondhalekar guides us through gravity's maze. He begins with Aristotle, dwells on the insights of Galileo, Newton and Einstein, and finishes with 10-dimensional 'superstring' theory, the great hope for a theory that unifies gravity with quantum theory. The Grip of Gravity is replete with entertaining digressions and biographical sketches.' Marcus Chown, New Scientist 'The Grip of Gravity by physicist Prabhakar Gondhalekar traces mankind's search for the laws of motion and gravitation throughout history, with each chapter devoted to a different scientist from history ... Gondhalekar's historical account of the path of scientific discovery which dominates the first half of the book is highly entertaining ... As the book progresses, Gondhalekar continues to describe the history of the field, but places more and more emphasis on explaining the science to non-physicists. His explanations are patient, practical and clear, with the race between theory and experimental verification presented as thrilling scientific adventure ... With many subplots skillfully woven into the main account, Gondhalekar has come up with a coherent, comprehensive and up-to-date story of our long quest to understand gravity.' Jens Gundlach, Physics World 'I recommend it without reservation.' Auke Slotegraaf, MNASSA 'it is accessible to a (highly) educated general public, at the same time providing a wealth of information on the newest research results on gravitation in space sciences to the scientist working in neighboring fields like astronomy or geodesy ... I strongly recommend this extraordinary book (at least) to every space geodesist.' Helmut Moritz, Journal of Geodesy 'This is a lively and entertaining history that follows the evolution of our scientific understanding against the background of the personalities involved and the political climates in which they lived ... a book that is, perhaps unusually for a popular science book, both very readable and understandable. It should appeal to students, interested non-specialists, and experts in the field.' David Robertson, The Observatory