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Cosmological Constant Λ vs. Massive Gravitons: A Case Study in General Relativity Exceptionalism vs. Particle Physics Egalitarianism

Pitts, J. Brian (2019) Cosmological Constant Λ vs. Massive Gravitons: A Case Study in General Relativity Exceptionalism vs. Particle Physics Egalitarianism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The renaissance of General Relativity witnessed
considerable progress regarding both understanding and justifying Einstein's equations. Both general relativists and historians of the subject tend to share a view, General
Relativity exceptionalism. But does some of the renaissance progress in understanding and justifying Einstein's equations owe something to particle physics egalitarianism? If so, how should the historiography of gravitation and
Einstein's equations reflect that fact?

The idea of a graviton mass has a 19th century Newtonian pre-history in Neumann's and Seeliger's long-distance modification of gravity, which (especially for Neumann) altered Poisson's equation to give a potential e^{-mr}/r for a point mass, improving convergence for homogeneous matter. Einstein reinvented the idea before introducing his faulty analogy with Λ. This confusion was first critiqued by Heckmann in the 1940s (without effect) and by Trautman, DeWitt, Treder, Rindler, and Freund et al. in the 1960s, and especially more recently by Schücking, but it has misled North, Jammer, Pais, Kerszberg, the Einstein Papers, and Kragh. The error is difficult to catch if one has an aversion to perturbative thinking, but difficult to make if one thinks along the lines of particle physics. The Λ-graviton mass confusion not only distorted the interpretation of Einstein's theory, but also obscured a potentially serious particle physics-motivated rivalry (massless vs. massive spin 2). How could one entertain massive spin 2 gravity if Λ is thought already analogous to the Neumann-Seeliger scalar theory?

Historiography, like physics, is best served by overcoming the divide between the two views of gravitation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pitts, J. Brianjbp25@cam.ac.uk0000-0002-7299-5137
Additional Information: To appear in forthcoming Einstein Studies volume, working title _The Renaissance of General Relativity_, edited by Alexander Blum, Roberto Lalli, and Jürgen Renn, published by Birkhäuser.
Keywords: cosmological constant Λ, graviton mass, General Relativity, particle physics, Carl Neumann, Hugo von Seeliger, Otto Heckmann, Engelberg Schücking
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
General Issues > Conventionalism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Dr. J. Brian Pitts
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 11:56
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2019 11:56
Item ID: 16383
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
General Issues > Conventionalism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: July 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16383

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