The beauty of falling : a life in pursuit of gravity / Claudia de Rham.

Rham, Claudia de [Browse]
Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2024]
ix, 220 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.


Summary note
"This book explores the subject of gravity in a fresh way, taking the reader from Newton to the frontiers of gravitational physics. Per Einstein's general theory of relativity, gravity is a manifestation of the curvature of spacetime, and this is an excellent and robust framework for understanding gravity in many situations. However, physicists nowadays also often understand gravity as the manifestation of a fundamental particle - the graviton - in the same way that we understand electromagnetism as the manifestation of the photon. And, in the very same way that we can "see" light, which is nothing other than an electromagnetic wave propagating through space and time, we can now "hear" gravity in the form of gravitational waves (waves in the very fabric of spacetime). As we celebrate 6 years since the first direct detection of gravitational waves, the reality of these waves, predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity, is now unquestionable. They offer a cutting-edge opportunity to decipher the many mysteries that our Universe is still hiding. What is the origin of the Universe? What are the dark components of the Universe that explain its structure and evolution? What is our fate? In The Beauty of Falling, de Rahm will explore these mysteries, building up a palpable portrait of gravity - what we know and don't know.The book begins with the Newtonian notion of gravitational force and quickly proceeds to Einstein's theory of relativity, while revealing how much more of our picture there is yet to uncover. The author will emphasize that General Relativity predicts its own downfall, and where the theory breaks down - at the particle level - is exactly where scientists are focusing in their search for new physics. The author brings the reader to a new gravitational frontier and, in doing so, introduces her own work - a theory of "massive gravity."While Einstein's theory of gravity assumes that the graviton is massless, "massive gravity" suggests an alternative - that the graviton may indeed have mass and a finite range, meaning that it "switches off" at cosmological scales. This would explain the current accelerating expansion of the universe that is observed. The author interweaves her personal history and research trajectory throughout, explaining the science but also highlighting the adventure of research, the thrill of questioning nature and challenging it in its deepest realization, and the excitement of discovering something entirely new. The story contains setbacks and breakthroughs, from the challenge of being a woman in a field where the representation of women is typically less than 10%, to dealing with the aftermath of challenging the previous claims of a generation of senior scientists (most of whom are men)"-- Provided by publisher.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • 9780691237480 (hardcover)
  • 0691237484 (hardcover)
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