Astronomers are gravity experts. All of the heavenly motions described in the preceding chapters are dominated by gravitation. Isaac Newton gets the credit for discovering gravity, but even Newton couldn’t explain what gravity was. Einstein proposed that gravity is a curvature of space, but that only pushes the mystery further away. “What is curvature?” we might ask.
This chapter shows how scientists build theories to explain and unify observations. Theories can give us entirely new ways to understand nature, but no theory is an end in itself. Astronomers continue to study Einstein’s theory, and they wonder if there is an even better way to understand the motions of the heavens.
The principles we discuss in this chapter will be companions through the remaining chapters. Gravity is universal.