Search This Blog

Thursday 7 December 2023

Gravitomagnetism - book review


In looking for things I could post on this blog, I found quite a few book reviews I've done that might be of interest here. I'll start with this review of Gravitomagnetism - Gravity's Secret by Ronald A. Evans, which originally appeared in Fortean Times #426 a year ago:
Back in 2015 I reviewed Ron Evans’s first book, Greenglow & The Search for Gravity Control (see this blog post), about his involvement in the now-defunct BAE Systems project that dipped its toes into that distinctly fringe area of physics. This follow-up book covers similar ground, but from a different perspective and with a somewhat different aim. Rather than recounting the specific history of the Greenglow project, Evans presents the reader with a pretty comprehensive and methodical account of all the physics – generally standard textbook stuff, but occasionally more speculative – that might be relevant to the holy grail of gravity control (like most serious researchers in the field, Evans dislikes the term “antigravity”, but there’s no escaping that’s essentially what he’s talking about).

I suspect this is the book Evans really wanted to write all along. His real passion is to instil an enthusiasm for the subject in others, and inspire top-class scientists and engineers to get into it. He’s unusual, possibly even unique, among the “alternative gravity” community in not having strongly held pet theories of his own. So you won’t find any really way-out ideas here, or a blanket denunciation of mainstream physics as “wrong” – just an indication of where there may be gaps in the latter that might lead to some kind of breakthrough in the future.

Evans explains in the introduction how the book evolved out of a lecture written for the general public, and a trace of this remains in the PowerPoint-type slides around which each chapter is written. But don’t expect a book where everyone is going to understand every word. Evans doesn’t hide the fact that physics is a difficult subject, and he isn’t afraid to give technical details where they’re needed. But it’s all good science, not made-up technobabble, and it doesn’t just focus on trendy topics like black holes, gravitational waves and quantum theory. There are chapters on older branches of physics that rarely make it into the public consciousness, such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and electromagnetism. That’s because Evans thinks these topics may be relevant to extended gravity, not so much directly as through analogous mathematics.

The technical asides notwithstanding, Evans keeps the ideas flowing in a way that makes for a surprisingly easy read. His aim, from the first page to the last, is to be thought-provoking – and he certainly succeeds in that.


Kid said...

Not really my cup of tea as a subject, but if I ever come across a really cheap copy, who knows? But thanks for reading it so that I didn't have to (but might - one day). Not exactly a positive comment perhaps, but I didn't want you to think that your posts were being ignored.

Andrew May said...

Thanks Kid - any comments are always appreciated, if only because I know that a few real humans are reading it (the same goes for the occasional "likes" I get when I cross-post to social media). Looking at the stats, I'm never sure how many of the supposed "views" are actually just search engine crawlers!

I wouldn't expect you to be particularly interested in the Gravitomagnetism book, but you might appreciate the cover, with looks quite professional in a Tintinesque way to me. Ron told me it was done specially for the book by a friend - the son of a former work colleague, if I remember correctly.