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The Grip of Gravity : The Quest to Understand the Laws of Motion and Gravitation - Prabhakar Gondhalekar

The Grip of Gravity

The Quest to Understand the Laws of Motion and Gravitation


Published: 17th September 2001
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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

Prefacep. vii
Aristotlep. 1
Greek sciencep. 2
Alexandrian sciencep. 12
Islamic sciencep. 19
Keplerp. 25
The Copernican revolutionp. 28
The professional astronomerp. 35
Marriage of mathematics and observationsp. 42
Galileop. 51
Mechanical philosophyp. 55
Birth of experimental physicsp. 61
Newtonp. 77
Origins of dynamicsp. 81
Laws of motionp. 91
Universal gravitationp. 98
Newton's universep. 101
Laws of Kepler and Newtonp. 102
Conserved quantitiesp. 104
Actionp. 108
After the Principiap. 111
Einsteinp. 119
Speed of lightp. 124
What is a straight line?p. 126
Doubts about Newtonian mechanicsp. 131
Theory of special relativityp. 142
Theory of general relativityp. 155
Choice between Newton and Einsteinp. 170
Alternatives to general relativityp. 173
Consequences of general relativityp. 176
Dickep. 189
Universal constant of gravitation Gp. 191
Inverse square lawp. 203
Gravitational redshiftp. 207
Deflection of light by gravitational fieldp. 211
The 'fourth test' or the time delay of radio wavesp. 218
Equivalence Principlep. 223
Gravitomagnetismp. 233
Gravitational wavesp. 238
Hubble and Eddingtonp. 247
Figure of planetsp. 247
Tidesp. 249
Ice agesp. 251
The universe-an expanding fire-ballp. 254
Galaxies, quasars and clusters of galaxiesp. 275
Dark matterp. 286
The birth, life and death of starsp. 295
Neutron starsp. 308
Black holesp. 311
Planets and planetary systemsp. 320
Planckp. 325
Chronologyp. 342
Notesp. 344
Suggestions for further readingp. 348
Indexp. 351
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521803168
ISBN-10: 0521803160
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 370
Published: 17th September 2001
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.75