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Publisher's Summary

Why the force that keeps our feet on the ground holds the key to understanding the nature of time and the origin of the universe.

Gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world, yet it is the strongest force in the universe. It was the first force to be recognized and described, yet it is the least understood. It is a "force" that keeps your feet on the ground, yet no such force actually exists.

Gravity, to steal the words of Winston Churchill, is "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". And penetrating that enigma promises to answer the biggest questions in science: What is space? What is time? What is the universe? And where did it all come from?

Award-winning writer Marcus Chown takes us on an unforgettable journey from the recognition of the "force" of gravity in 1666 to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. And, as we stand on the brink of a seismic revolution in our worldview, he brings us up to speed on the greatest challenge ever to confront physics.

©2017 Marcus Chown (P)2017 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great narrative overview

really solid introduction to basics of newtonian revolution, then relativity, touching on quantum mechanics and then discussing the future.. only complaint is the narrator's use of accents when reading quotes... I personally found it off-putting, especially the nasal sounding American accents (that's not what we sound like, is it?!)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Overall Introduction

Very well done as an introduction to Gravity, concise but informative. Highly recommend to scientific and non-scientific readers alike.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very good overview of the subject

This book provided a great survey of and incredibly broad and complex field. I particularly liked the opening chapters and their coverage of Newton and other early theorists. The author connected many of these early ideas into this framework of modern physics instead of skimming over it like many other books.

The rest of the book continues in an extremely accessible and complete manner, tying the history, the personalities, and the theory in an engaging dialogue. This book stays at the conceptual level and doesn't require any math.

My only critique of the content is that it doesn't cover the breadth of modern approaches to the challenging questions of gravitational theory. It discussed string theory at length, but doesn't consider loop quantum gravity.

The narration is generally very good. Her voice is clear and she navigates the jargon as well as a "native speaker" of physics. My one major complaint with her narration, and the audio book in general is that she does a very poor job with accents when doing quotations. All the Americans sound like a cross between a team and a gangster. Her German accents seem like caricatures of Einstein. It was distracting from the otherwise enjoyable narration. I would have preferred her to just do these in her own voice instead.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 11-30-17

Fine survey for laymen but flawed

This is yet another fine book that is a light survey of the history of the science, this one focusing on gravity for the layman. There is a bit of Newton, Orbits, Tides, Eclipses, General Relativity, and some String Theory. This survey of science is just fine, expressing the winding road of scientific progress well and covering some interesting aspects of lunar orbits and tides that most people don't know.

The book tries hard to be approachable by non-technical readers. This included some completely fictional vignettes about various scientists. I found these vignettes annoying at best, and they don't really add anything real.

A few other nits....Chown claims total eclipses have only occurred for the last 150 million years and will only occur for the next 150 million years...I am not sure where this comes from. Total eclipses will stop eventually as the moon moves away but it seems they will likely continue for much longer than that, and it seems total eclipses have been happening for billions of years. Although Chown points out the historical fallacy of epicycles to explain the orbits of planets, the author does not so clearly point out our current theories are very much like epicycles.

Chown suggests that the next transformative breakthrough theory of gravity will not be from some lone genius with a deep insight (like Newton or Einstein) but instead a group of scientists. This seems quite unlikely to me. The key will likely be a deep insight making clear several key assumptions of science are wrong. Such insights seem much more likely to occur to a single (anti-social) genius than to a group of scientists.

I did not like the narration much. The narration is clear but I found the accents used for most of the quotes REALLY annoying and there was a over enthusiasm I found tedious.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well written interesting story.

only gripe is the reader using a unbelievably annoying accent for every quote that is books only major grinding feature.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful