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In the Grip of the Distant Universe: The Science of Inertia [Hardcover]

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Item description for In the Grip of the Distant Universe: The Science of Inertia by Peter Graneau...

This is a book about the history of the science of inertia. Nobody denies the existence of the forces of inertia, but they are branded as "fictitious" because they do not fit smoothly into modern physics. Named by Kepler and given mathematical form by Newton, the force of inertia remains aloof because it has no obvious local cause. At the end of the 19th century, Ernst Mach bravely claimed that the inertia of an object was the result of its instantaneous interaction with all matter in the universe. Many other well-known physicists, including Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes and Einstein, are shown to have tackled this difficult subject. The book also concentrates on inertia research in the 20th century, taking place under the shadow of general relativity, which is seen as uncomfortable with Mach's principle. A Newtonian paradigm, based on action-at-a-distance forces, is discussed throughout the book, allowing the revival of Mach's principle as the only coherent explanation of the inertia forces which play such an important role in the laboratory and in the cosmos.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: World Scientific Publishing Company
Pages   274
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.28 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2006
Publisher   World Scientific Publishing Company
ISBN  9812567542  
ISBN13  9789812567543  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about In the Grip of the Distant Universe: The Science of Inertia?

An excellent, important text  May 1, 2008
In the Grip provides an excellent historical and analytical overview of the vital concept of inertia. Some critical reviewers below have apparently failed to read carefully, or else grasp, the thesis advanced here, which is not that Newton was "more advanced" than Einstein, much less that the Principia are a fully accurate representation of reality, but rather that the empirical approach to mechanical questions is far more effective and accurate than the thought-experimental, Aristotelian field theoretical approach. The authors are explicit that inertia is a mechanical concept and must be treated as such; field theories that fictionalize or dismiss inertial force are both flatly innaccurate and evasionary. Their formulation of the Machian concept is lucid; action at a distance is physical fact. Their tour through the pageant of the modern-era development of mechanics is both interesting and enlightening. Highly recommended.
A polemic not a treatise  Apr 8, 2007
In the Grip of the Distant Universe: Peter and Neal Graneau

As a long term fan of physics as a spectator sport, I've been aware of one of the earliest conundrums of physics; the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass even though there is no apriori expectation that this should be true. I was intrigued by the Graneou's book.
Unfortunately the book is not the treatise I expected but rather a polemic, mainly reprising arguments from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is little or no discussion of recent (late 20th century) developments as the Graneaus believe that all physicists of the 20th century were mislead by Einstein's theories.
The last statement marks the tone of the book, full of partial references and subtle logic errors. The Graneaus apparently believe that the physics community is engaging in a vast conspiracy to suppress their theory of a Newtonian universe.
Not recommended
In the Grip of a distant pseudo-scientist  Mar 3, 2007
I began to read this book with the hope there would be some new insights but very soon it became clear that the author did not understand his subject well enough to accurately explain basic physics. When I am told that an accelerating system is in equilibrium I am not impressed. The bad physics even detracted from any value as a historical read. If the author can't explain accurately the basic ideas of the book how badly is the historical information being twisted to serve his conclusions. I put a note inside the cover telling my grandkids to read this one with a critical eye.
Pseudoscientific Claptrap  Feb 14, 2007
Gosh, everyone here is so polite. Except me. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we? This book starts with ridiculous misrepresentations of moderns physics, including a laughable example that is supposed to make it look like quantum electrodynamics can't handle magnetism, and goes on to try to overturn Einstein with an extremely well-understood electrical experiment that does nothing of the kind.

The authors say that Einstein's view of the universe is 'imaginary,' but go on to replace it with something at least as imaginary. The difference? Theirs doesn't work. Avoid this book unless you are researching pseudoscience.
In the grip of Mach's principle  Nov 10, 2006
I think that this book is one of the most provocative books that I've read lately. The main theme is a reinterpretation of classical newtonian mechanics that would take into account Mach's principle, a principle that never ceased to haunt us since Einstein used it in one of the first versions of his general relativity (later on he abandoned it). Of course, you must have a solid newtonian background to better understand the consequences of the changes proposed by the author. Even if you do not agree with all points of view presented by Peter Graneau, the book surely sets your gray matter to work hard on the issues raised here. I am quite certain that together with other books that deal with the subject it will be my companion for a long time.

A C Tort

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