|Gravitational waves of a compact binary star|
by MoocSummers (from Wikimedia Commons)
"Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."Albert Einstein, scribbled on a 1933 letter to him about the effects of gravity on people falling in love.
"Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire." Teilhard deChardin
“Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects. ” Dave Barry
WHAT PHILOSOPHERS SAY SCIENCE IS ALL ABOUT*
The theories and auxiliary data in the protective layer are networked to each other and to the core. For example, the relativistic formulation of black hole growth and radiation is linked to the Second Law of Thermodynamics and to quantum mechanics. (For an interesting view of the Lakatos scheme in other disciplines, do a Google search "images Lakatos scientific research programme".) The Lakatos scientific research programme does show how science works, but as far as I can see, it does not lay claim to either scientific realism or anti-realism--it's epistemic, not metaphysical.
WHAT I THINK SCIENCE IS ALL ABOUT**My view of science is based on much post-retirement reading in the philosophy of science and on my work from 1954 to 1997 in spectoscopy, nmr and MRI--studies crossing several disciplines--chemical physics, biophysics, molecular biology, medical physics. In the ** Note I've given an illustration from my research life of how science works (or should work), but here I'd like to focus on a prime example--the development of the Standard Model for elementary particle physics.
In an early post (15th April, 2013), God. Symmetry and Beauty I: the Standard Model and the Higgs Boson, I discussed the development of this theory. I'll summarize here the points relevant to the modus operandi of science and show how they are in accord with the Lakatos model. First, in the Lakatos outer shell there were experimental findings that did not fit well into any established theory, what was termed the "elementary particle zoo". Second, two principles in the inner core governed what theories would be acceptable and esthetically satisfying: symmetry and gauge invariance. An auxiliary theory proposed early on by Higgs, utilizing an auxiliary principle of "symmetry breaking", was developed to enable gauge-invariant theories to be employed and yield mass values for elementary particles. Some other theories were developed that made predictions that were falsified and so were discarded. The final icing on the cake was the detection of the Higgs boson by very high energy scattering experiments, thus completing the experimental verification of the Standard Model theory.
GRAVITATIONAL WAVE DETECTION--HOW SCIENCE WORKS****
|Gravitational Wave Data,|
from Caltech Media Assets
(scan down to get full description)
"the gravitational deflection of light, the perihelion shift of the orbit of Mercury, the gravitational red shift, the frame-dragging effects of Gravity Probe B, and the rate of gravitational-wave energy loss from neutron-star binary pulsars" John G. Cramer, Gravity with 4-Vector PotentialsThe answer to that question is no. Another theory, G4V (Gravity with 4-Vector Potentials--see link above), has been proposed. For the properties listed in the quotation above, the G4V theory gives predictions identical to those of Einstein's General Relativity theory. They differ in the predicted properties of gravity waves by differing in the predicted wave polarizations***. At the time when this post was written it appears that the observed waves correspond to the Einstein GR predictions. Thus the experiments will have fulfilled their mission, to decide which theory fits reality better, Einstein's or the G4V.
A THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalm 19 (KJV)and
"What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp?" St. Gregory of Nazarian, Sermon as quoted in The Office of Readings for 15th February, 2016.
A few years into my first academic position at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon University) a graduate student in my research group was facing a road block with his research problem. A well-established theory was not giving results matching his data. After a lot of thought, it appeared that the gap lay in that higher energy levels of the compound (potassium ferricyanide) he was studying. Searching the library, I found a publication by Schwinger and Karplus (recalling my earlier graduate course in quantum mechanics) that offered a road to a solution. After several weeks of intensive devotion I wrote a paper that incorporated density matrix techniques to account for contributions of all electronic levels and submitted it for a publication. One reviewer pointed out a serious deficiency--I had neglected to account for mixing of excited states with ground state. I acknowledged he was right, asked him to co-author the paper with me and we collaboratively worked it up for publication. There is an equation stemming from that work, (Google "Kurland-McGarvey Equation") that is widely enough used in the specialty that it doesn't need footnoting for reference. So one more small brick in the scientific edifice.
***The polarization of a wave gives the direction of the wave intensity relative to the direction of propagation of the wave. For example, for light, an electromagnetic radiation wave, the polarization is in a direction perpendicular to the direction of propagation. For gravity waves, the situation is more complicated: the polarization is a tensor rather than a vector. (See this link.)
****For some neat videos and pictures, go to the LIGO Lab Gallery.