The Ascent of Gravity:
The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything

Marcus Chown

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Published : 2017

Copyright : Marcus Chown 2017

ISBN-10 : HB 1-47460-186-3
ISBN-13 : HB 978-1-4746-0186-3

Publisher's Write-Up

Why the force that keeps our feet on the ground holds the key to understanding time and the origin of the universe.

Gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet it is the strongest force in the universe. It was the first force to be recognised and described yet it is the least understood. It is a 'force' that keeps your feet on the ground yet no such force actually exists.

Gravity, to steal the words of Winston Churchill, is 'a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma'. And penetrating that enigma promises to answer the biggest questions in science: what is space? What is time? What is the universe? And where did it all come from?

Award-winning writer Marcus Chown takes us on an unforgettable journey from the recognition of the 'force' of gravity in 1666 to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. And, as we stand on the brink of a seismic revolution in our worldview, he brings us up to speed on the greatest challenge ever to confront physics.

'Compact and accessible while remaining comprehensive. A welcome addition to anyone's popular science library, written in a relaxed style and full of relevant quotations.'

BBC Sky at Night Magazine

'Chown is good company. He tells his story clearly and sets out the key ideas without recourse to jargon and intimidating mathematics... "There has never been a better time to study gravity," Arkani-Hamed insists, and Chown's eminently readable book helps us understand why.'


'Entertaining and at times mind-boggling guide to the weakest of nature's fundamental forces, which also controls the fate of the universe.'

The Times
Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Nigel (310517) Rating (9/10)

Review by Nigel
Book Source: Author
Rating 9/10

Having just finished watching the excellent The Beginning and End of the Universe with Prof Jim Al-Khalili I was looking forward to The Ascent of Gravity by Marcus Chown as it covers in a little more detail a lot of the programme’s content… as it would.

The book is split in to three parts, Newton, Einstein and finally, Beyond Einstein. All three are well written, with the first two concisely laying out the particular thoughts of the time and the how the theories were developed and demonstrated in the real world, to the limits of the technology of the time. The third part looks at how much we have learnt but how little we know. What we have is a really strong framework that we believe is leading us in the right direction but there is a long way to go.

This is a really good popular science book which doesn’t drown you in mathematics. Some may be put off by the theme of the book but you have no need to worry, Marcus Chown has excelled at making the subject matter accessible, in a very readable way, to just about anyone. I particularly liked the sprinkling of fictional anecdotes that brought an otherwise possibly dry subject to life.

What this book summarises succinctly is that we have a good understanding of how little we actually know; we have made great strides in science yet we have barely scratched the surface of the complexities of the universe… mind-bogglingly brilliant. Supersymmetry anyone?
Nigel (31st May 2017)

Column Ends