The Lighter Side of Gravity

Jayant V. Narlikar

Cambridge University Press 1996
A book review by Danny Yee © 1998
The Lighter Side of Gravity is a popular introduction to the mysteries of gravity. Taking a historical approach, it begins with Aristotle and Galileo and the basic concepts of mechanics and dynamics; it continues with Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, and the motion of the planets, with Newton and the law of gravitation, and with Einstein, relativity, and curved spacetime. The concepts of escape velocities and potential barriers are explained, along with the workings of fusion and stellar nucleosynthesis. Then come the more dramatic topics: tides and gravity waves, gravitational collapse and black holes, and cosmology (big bangs, grand unified theories, inflation, and dark matter) — and Narlikar's pet topics, white holes and quasi-steady-state cosmology.

The Lighter Side of Gravity is a clear and readable account which assumes no previous knowledge, but it doesn't shun equations or real physics. Instead it explains the necessary basic physics — clearly and simply, but quite straightforwardly and without being the least bit patronising (those with a physics background won't wince). I would recommend The Lighter Side of Gravity to anyone interested in the subject, but especially to those learning, or interested in learning, physics. It should be useful in schools, where the coupling with astronomy may motivate students otherwise unenthused by physics.

February 1998

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%T The Lighter Side of Gravity
%A Narlikar, Jayant V.
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1996
%O paperback, 2nd edition, index
%G ISBN 0521565650
%P xii,217pp