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Epistemology of Experimental Gravity – Scientific Rationality

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The evolution of gravitational tests from an epistemological perspective framed in the concept of rational reconstruction of Imre Lakatos, based on his methodology of research programmes. Unlike other works on the same subject, the evaluated period is very extensive, starting with Newton’s natural philosophy and up to the quantum gravity theories of today. In order to explain in a more rational way the complex evolution of the gravity concept of the last century, I propose a natural extension of the methodology of the research programmes of Lakatos that I then use during the paper. I believe that this approach offers a new perspective on how evolved over time the concept of gravity and the methods of testing each theory of gravity, through observations and experiments. I argue, based on the methodology of the research programmes and the studies of scientists and philosophers, that the current theories of quantum gravity are degenerative, due to the lack of experimental evidence over a long period of time and of self-immunization against the possibility of falsification. Moreover, a methodological current is being developed that assigns a secondary, unimportant role to verification through observations and/or experiments. For this reason, it will not be possible to have a complete theory of quantum gravity in its current form, which to include to the limit the general relativity, since physical theories have always been adjusted, during their evolution, based on observational or experimental tests, and verified by the predictions made. Also, contrary to a widespread opinion and current active programs regarding the unification of all the fundamental forces of physics in a single final theory, based on string theory, I argue that this unification is generally unlikely, and it is not possible anyway for a unification to be developed based on current theories of quantum gravity, including string theory. In addition, I support the views of some scientists and philosophers that currently too much resources are being consumed on the idea of developing quantum gravity theories, and in particular string theory, to include general relativity and to unify gravity with other forces, as long as science does not impose such research programs.


Gravitational tests
Methodology of Lakatos – Scientific rationality
The natural extension of the Lakatos methodology
Bifurcated programs
Unifying programs
1. Newtonian gravity
1.1 Heuristics of Newtonian gravity
1.2 Proliferation of post-Newtonian theories
1.3 Tests of post-Newtonian theories
1.3.1 Newton’s proposed tests
1.3.2 Tests of post-Newtonian theories
1.4 Newtonian gravity anomalies
1.5 Saturation point in Newtonian gravity
2. General relativity
2.1 Heuristics of the general relativity
2.2 Proliferation of post-Einsteinian gravitational theories
2.3 Post-Newtonian parameterized formalism (PPN)
2.4 Tests of general relativity and post-Einsteinian theories
2.4.1 Tests proposed by Einstein
2.4.2 Tests of post-Einsteinian theories
2.4.3 Classic tests Precision of Mercury’s perihelion Light deflection Gravitational redshift
2.4.4 Modern tests Shapiro Delay Gravitational dilation of time Frame dragging and geodetic effect Testing of the principle of equivalence Solar system tests
2.4.5 Strong field gravitational tests Gravitational lenses Gravitational waves Synchronization binary pulsars Extreme environments
2.4.6 Cosmological tests The expanding universe Cosmological observations Monitoring of weak gravitational lenses
2.5 Anomalies of general relativity
2.6 The saturation point of general relativity
3. Quantum gravity
3.1 Heuristics of quantum gravity
3.2 The tests of quantum gravity
3.3 Canonical quantum gravity
3.3.1 Tests proposed for the CQG
3.3.2. Loop quantum gravity
3.4 String theory
3.4.1 Heuristics of string theory
3.4.2. Anomalies of string theory
3.5 Other theories of quantum gravity
3.6 Unification (The Final Theory)
4. Cosmology

MultiMedia Publishing
EPUB (ISBN 978-606-033-321-0), Kindle (ISBN 978-606-033-323-4), PDF (ISBN 978-606-033-322-7)
DOI: 10.58679/TW77080

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Nicolae Sfetcu


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