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The Story Behind the Story of I Am Gravity


Gravity's Gifts

by Henry Herz


JACKET FLAP COPY


What reaches everywhere and never tires?


Tugging on delicate dandelion puffs and gargantuan galaxies alike? Holding the mighty Milky Way together?


Gravity, of course! Read along as Gravity boasts of its essential role in life as we know it—from the pulling of the ocean's tides to the vast spray of stars in the sky.


Back matter about the science of gravity and major historical discoveries enhances this book for STEM learning.



I hope the picture book I Am Gravity offers a compelling telling in three different ways. First, I chose to portray gravity in the form of an anthropomorphic autobiography, as I did in my earlier I Am Smoke. Gravity tells its own tale using spare, lyrical, riddling language to pique young reader interest in physics, astronomy, and cosmology. The language was intended to evoke an ancient, powerful entity with, dare I say it, gravitas. I used this approach to feature an invisible protagonist – very odd, but in a fun way. The narrative is again ably aided by glorious illustrations from award-winner Mercè López.




Second, I wanted I Am Gravity to convey the incredible scope of the physical phenomenon. Gravity affects everything from the tiny to the enormous. It tugs on molecules, dandelion puffs, apples, kids, moons, stars, and galaxies. Gravity also has a long reach. Every bit of matter in the universe is attracted to every other bit. So, gravity not only pulls you toward the ground, but stars battle across the light-years in galactic tugs-of-war. The greater the mass and the closer the objects, the stronger the gravitational attraction. That’s why a person would weigh less on the moon than on the Earth. Mass even warps the fabric of space-time such that gravity also bends the path of massless light waves. Sir Isaac Newton thought gravity was an instantaneous force. Over two-hundred years later, Albert Einstein developed the concept of gravitational waves that convey the effects of gravity between objects at the speed of light. That’s mighty fast, 186,000 miles per second, but not instantaneous. 



Third, without gravity, we wouldn’t be here! Gravity is essential for planet and star formation. Over millions of years, interstellar gas and dust clump together—the bigger the clump, the more it attracts additional atoms. With enough mass, the material collapses under its own gravity. As the pressure continues to increase, the temperature of the core rises until it gets so hot that fusion reactions begin—a star is born. Hydrogen fuses to form helium. More fusion creates heavier elements. The outward pressure from fusion counteracts the inward pull of gravity.



Once a star’s fuel is used up, gravity takes over. If the star is big enough, its rapid collapse creates shock waves, blasting the outer part of the star into space. Some of that debris may eventually collide with interstellar molecules to form new stars and planets. The heavier elements that make up your body—like carbon, nitrogen, silicon, oxygen, and iron—were originally forged within the cores of stars. You are literally made of stardust!


Gravity keeps us alive, too. It maintains Earth’s orbit around the sun by counteracting the outward centrifugal force generated by Earth’s elliptical path. Without the sun’s gravity, Earth would be flung into the cold of space. With gravity, we receive just enough light and heat for life to thrive. Gravity similarly keeps the moon balanced in orbit around the Earth. Via gravity, the moon causes the oceans to ebb and flow. Gravity keeps the air and water in Earth’s atmosphere from simply drifting into space. Winds blow because gravity pulls down colder (denser) air. Rain falls because of gravity.


Gravity grips everything in an eternal hug. We live in a magical universe.


AUTHOR BIO & LINKS


Henry Herz wrote the traditionally published picture books: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH, CAP'N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW, GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE,  HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS, ALICE'S MAGIC GARDEN, 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT, I AM SMOKE, and I AM GRAVITY.


Henry’s short stories for children and adults will/have appeared in Highlights for Children, Ladybug Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Pseudopod, Metastellar, Titan Books, and anthologies from Albert Whitman & Co., Blackstone Publishing, Brigids Gate Press, Air and Nothingness Press, Baen Books, and elsewhere. He has curated and edited seven middle grade, young adult, and adult anthologies.


You can buy Henry's Books Here.







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