1. Who Should Read This Book
However, after reading a few random passages, my impression changed, and I decided to purchase it.
The book is quite good for reasons I will articulate below. Regarding the intended audience, the reader is expected to understand at least the fundamentals of the special and general theories of relativity and some quantum mechanics. Although the book is of the popular science genre with hardly any maths inside, its physics is serious and thorough.
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The Riddle of Gravitation explains the physics of gravitation and the theories that describe it. This is the principal aim of Dr Bergmann as far as this book goes. It begins by surveying Newton’s theory of gravity and the three laws of dynamics, moving on to the Special Theory of Relativity and finally covering the General Theory of Relativity, both in theory and in terms of experiments at that day.
Although the theoretical physics discussions in the book were fascinating, the observation and experimentation physics is quite outdated. However, it must be pointed out that this book was written before the discovery of black holes and while the Cosmic Background Radiation observations and cosmological modes were still in their infancy.
3. Structure of The Riddle of Gravitation
The book is divided into three parts:
4. What I Loved About The Riddle of Gravitation
Some examples of what sets Dr Bergmann’s book The Riddle of Gravitation apart from other titles in the genre.
The book succinctly articulates the following concepts with compelling insights on how the greatest minds in physics discovered the new theories of gravity:
5. Originality of Content in The Riddle of Gravitation
The book presents a fresh perspective on the theory of gravitation. It is midway between popular science books written for the layman (Other Worlds by Paul Davies, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, or The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene) and textbooks incomprehensible for non-physics graduates.
The Riddle of Gravitation presents complex ideas with plenty of insight and rigour. The author achieved this without mathematics by focusing on a single but powerful idea in every chapter.
Peter Gabriel Bergmann (24 March 1915 – 19 October 2002) was born in Germany and studied at the University of Prague, where he got his PhD in 1936. He subsequently migrated to the US and worked as a theoretical physicist. He is best known for his work with Albert Einstein on a unified field theory encompassing all physical interactions. Bergmann established one of the first research centres devoted to studying the general theory of relativity to reconcile it with quantum theory.
He authored a classic textbook, Introduction to the Theory of Relativity, in addition to The Riddle of Gravitation, and coauthored Albert Einstein: His Influence on Physics, Philosophy and Politics.