Is Gravitation Interaction or just Curved-Spacetime Geometry?

Abstract.  As there have still been attempts to regard gravity, a 100 years after Einstein’s general relativity, not as a manifestation of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime, but as a physical field (and therefore as a force), it is high time to face the ultimate judge – the experimental evidence – to settle this issue once and for all. Two rulings of the ultimate judge are reminded – (i) the experimental fact that falling particles do not resist their fall rules out the option that gravity may be a force, and (ii) the experiments that confirmed the relativistic effects are impossible in a three-dimensional world, which also implies that gravity is indeed manifestation of the geometry of the real spacetime. It is also stressed that not only are attempts to impose a kind of scientific democracy in physics doomed to failure (because the question of what the external world is, is not necessarily determined by what the majority of physicists claim), but such attempts might, in the end, hamper the advancement of fundamental physics.

1 Introduction Despite that for centuries physicists have known well that there is no democracy in science, there have been attempts in recent years to get rid of the tyranny of experiment and to introduce the “values” of democracy in physics too – to sideline the scientific method silently as an undemocratic method of doing physics and to replace it with purely unscientific “criteria” such as beauty and elegance [3] of the mathematical 1 formalism of proposed theories, ambiguous virtues such as explanatory power, and the core of scientific democracy (which has being implicitly promoted) – if a proposed theory is supported by sufficient number of researchers and a great number of MSc and PhD theses on this theory have been defended, the theory should have the democratic right to be treated equally with the established theories. Not only may allowing any degree of scientific democracy in physics not lead to scientific progress, but it almost certainly may hamper the advancement of fundamental physics and may even have disastrous consequences. Here are two groups of examples of what I think are manifestations of attempted scientific democracy some of which might have held back the progress in fundamental physics (just imagine the funds and the number of researchers involved in the research on string theory, if it turns out that it contradicts the existing experimental evidence, especially if that contradiction could have been discovered years earlier): Proposed theories: In recent years there has been a growing dissatisfaction among physicists with the attempts to regard theories (such as string theory and the multiverse cosmology), which have not been experimentally confirmed, on equal footing with the already accepted physical theories. In December 2014 George Ellis and Joe Silk published in Nature the article “Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics,” whose beginning openly expressed that dissatisfaction and alarm [4]: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue – explicitly – that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical.” While the multiverse cosmology does not seem to make any testable predictions (which excludes it from the realm of physics), string theory needs especially rigorous and impartial scrutiny because I think it contradicts the already existing experimental evidence [5]. Alternative interpretations: I will give two examples of interpretations based on misconceptions in spacetime physics. The first is a growing fashion to claim that the notion of relativistic mass (that mass increases with velocity) is a misconception [6]. In fact, it is the claim that mass does not increase with velocity that is an unfortunate and embarrassing misconception, which becomes immediately obvious when two facts are taken explicitly into account: • the very definition of mass (mass is defined as the measure of the resistance a particle offers to its acceleration) • that in relativity acceleration is different in different reference frames. Therefore the mass of a particle cannot be the same in all frames in relative motion. Proper or rest mass (which is an invariant) and relativistic mass (which is framedependent) are exactly like proper time (which is an invariant) and relativistic or coordinate time (which is frame-dependent), and, to some extent, like proper and relativistic length. The second example deals with attempts not to regard gravitational phenomena as actually being manifestations of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime (viewing the geometrical presentation of general relativity as pure mathematics), but as caused 2 by a gravitational field (and therefore by a gravitational force). As such attempts still exist a 100 years after the creation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the purpose of this paper is to stress it as strongly as possible that such an interpretation of Einstein’s general relativity is ruled out by the experimental evidence as will be shown in Section 2. It will be also shown in this section that the experiments that confirmed the kinematic relativistic effects would be impossible if spacetime were a mathematical notion not representing a real four-dimensional world. The logically unavoidable implication from (i) the non-existence of gravitational force an (ii) the reality of spacetime that gravitational phenomena are fully explained by the nonEuclidean geometry of spacetime, without the assumption of gravitational interaction, is outlined in Section 3. An Appendix demonstrates that it is almost self-evident that what is traditionally called kinetic energy is in fact inertial energy; it is this energy (not gravitational energy) that is involved in gravitational phenomena.


This is not the only field of science where the ‘democracy’ arises. Information theory, Artificial intelligence, entropy and complexity – often in these disciplines obscure, misty and mystical pronouncements are distributed. The main notions are not defined and therefore everybody can say everything – nobody can doubt or deny it.  I.V. 


About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence. Artificial Intelligence Foundation Latvia, Editor.
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