Recent Empirical Disconfirmation of Whitehead’s Relativity Theory by Robert Andrew Ariel Robert Andrew Ariel graduated from Dartmouth College with an AB. in Chemistry. He studied towards the Honors BA. in Physics and Philosophy on a Marshall Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford OXI 3BJ, England. The following article appeared in In 1922, some nine years after Einstein had published his first paper on General Relativity, Whitehead was compelled by the differences he had with Einstein’s view to come forward with his own work, The resulting theory, though founded on quite different principles and developed in an independent fashion from Einstein’s theory, nevertheless gives predictions that are identical to the latter’s, within observable limits, for each of the four classic tests of gravitational theories (i.e., precession of the perihelion of Mercury, redshift of light emitted by a massive body, the bending of light-beams in a strong gravitational field, and the apparent slowing of the speed of light propagation near massive bodies). Whitehead’s theory not only agrees with Einstein’s and with observations in these crucial cases, it is also a mathematically simpler theory. Einstein’s gravitational equations are nonlinear, and the difficulty in solving them for even a simple problem are enormous. Whitehead’s linear theory is almost simple in comparison. Hence, if the two theories always gave identical predictions, Whitehead’s formulation would be the theory of choice (2:303). However, despite the similarity of prediction for the four "classic" tests, there are some differences between the two theories that can be exploited to disconfirm one or the other. To understand the recently discovered evidence against Whitehead’s theory it is necessary to examine the Newtonian gravitational law in the light of Einstein’s and Whitehead’s /theories. We recall that Newton’s law for gravitational attraction between two bodies is given by: r the distance separating them, and G the gravitational constant which acts as a factor of proportionality. The value of G can be found experimentally: If two spheres of known mass are separated by a known distance, there will be a measurable force between them. Knowing the force and knowing the masses and distance involved, one can find G from the above force law. The question can now be asked: Is the value of the gravitational "constant" G, thus measured, truly constant and independent of the location or orientation of the two masses? The answer, in brief, is that on Einstein’s theory the value of G is constant, while on Whitehead’s theory it is not. In other words, on Einstein’s theory two given masses separated by a given distance will attract each other with the same force anywhere in the universe. On Whitehead’s theory the attraction between the two masses will vary slightly as a function of the position of other bodies in the universe.The reason for this difference goes right to the heart of the two theories. Einstein’s theory is characterized by having no prior geometry, no prior structure to space; the geometry of space, its local curvature, is determined entirely by the location of masses within it. The attraction which we observe between objects is a manifestation of the motion of an object in the space that has been curved by the mass of another object. Now since curvature is the origin of attraction (Or, more accurately, curvature manifests itself as attraction), the only factor that determines the attraction between two bodies is the local curvature of space. Since there is no prior geometry, the only thing that determines the local curvature of space is the amount of "curving force," i.e. mass, that is present. For Einstein, the constancy of In sharp contrast to Einstein’s theory, Whitehead’s The detection of variations in
References 1. Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler. 2. J. L. Synge. "Orbits and rays in the gravitational field of a finite sphere according to the theory of A. N. Whitehead." 3. C. M. Will. "Relativistic gravity in the solar system, II: Anisotropy in the Newtonian gravitational constant." Viewed 8780 times. |