Putting Whitehead’s theory of gravitation in its historical context

Por • 8 jun, 2017 • Sección: Opinion

Ronny Desmet

Whitehead’s special relativistic reformulation of Einstein’s general relativistic theory of gravitation is quite close to Einstein’s 1915–1916 original with regard to mathematical formulae and empirical tests. Only highly sophisticated contemporary tests (such as the ones highlighted by Gary Gibbons and Clifford Will1 ) reveal that the two theories are not empirically equivalent, and justify physicists to favor Einstein’s theory with regard to experimental success. However, Whitehead’s 1920–1922 alternative came out of season for the physicist, and hence, it never played a significant role in the history of physics. Allowing for a common sense interpretation, its importance is mainly philosophical, but the philosophical interpretation of Whitehead’s theory is not included in the scope of the present paper.

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