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Proving the Principle: Taking Geodesic Dynamics too Seriously in Einstein's Theory

Tamir, Michael (2012) Proving the Principle: Taking Geodesic Dynamics too Seriously in Einstein's Theory. [Published Article]

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    In this paper I critically review the long history of attempts to formulate and derive the geodesic principle, which claims that massive bodies follow geodesic paths in general relativity theory. I argue that if the principle is (canonically) interpreted as a dynamical law of motion describing the actual evolution of gravitating bodies as endorsed by Einstein, then it is impossible to apply the law to massive bodies in a way that is coherent with his own field equations. Rejecting this canonical interpretation, I propose an alternative interpretation of the geodesic principle as a type of universality thesis analogous to the universality behavior exhibited in thermal systems during phase transitions.

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    Item Type: Published Article
    Keywords: geodesic principle, universality, law of motion, idealization, approximation, Einstein, general relativity, dynamical law, phase transitions, distributions
    Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
    General Issues > Laws of Nature
    General Issues > Models and Idealization
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
    Depositing User: Michael Tamir
    Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2012 09:33
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2012 09:33
    Item ID: 9158
    Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Official URL:
    DOI or Unique Handle.:

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