An attempt to provide an accessible explanation of gravity and relative motion that accommodates modern quantum theory.
According to Ticer (Economic Climate Change Solution from a Historical Perspective, 2018), physics is prohibitively complex for the intelligent layperson because of its emphasis on sophisticated mathematics. In this book, the self-educated author aims to furnish an account that sticks to relatively simple math—mostly algebra and geometry. He delivers a history of space and time theories that impressively combines epochal breadth and microscopic detail. Early on, the principal theories of space splinter into two camps—characterizing it as a metaphysical plenum or a partial vacuum. Interpretations advocating the former are found in Pierre Gassendi’s and René Descartes’ work, he notes, and of the latter in Galileo’s, Copernicus’, and Johannes Kepler’s. Isaac Newton’s postulation of gravity, he writes, was both groundbreaking and limited, as he was only able to account for gravity as an action at a distance, but it was essential to the establishment of later thermodynamics and Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Ticer also assesses advancements in electrodynamics, wave theory, and mass-energy dynamics as well as the history of quantum theory and Hubble cosmology. The author shows a remarkable mastery of the history of physics throughout, although he does tend to indulge in sweeping generalizations. Overall, the book is marked by an unpretentious creativity, whether his understanding is ultimately true or not—he ultimately interprets gravity “as a long-range vacuum effect whereby Tired Light recycles back to maintain the atomic structure of matter at a rate equal to the Hubble Constant.” That said, Ticer’s stated objective was to translate technical physics into comprehensible prose, and it’s one that he doesn’t meet; instead, he consistently resorts to his own brand of convolution: “As the paradox is with regard to how masses in relative motion collide, stick together and maintain to have the same relative mass while relatively at rest, the resolution of the paradox considers elastic collision as an inelastic one plus its reverse process.”
An often compelling account of the history of gravity theories undermined by needlessly turbid prose.