Fankhauser, Johannes and Read, James
(2023)
Gravitational redshift revisited: inertia, geometry, and charge.
[Preprint]
Abstract
Gravitational redshift effects undoubtedly exist; moreover, the experimental setups which confirm the existence of these effectsthe most famous of which being the PoundRebka experimentare extremely wellknown. Nonethelessand perhaps surprisinglythere remains a great deal of confusion in the literature regarding what these experiments really establish. Our goal in the present article is to clarify these issues, in three concrete ways. First, although (i) Brown & Read (2016) are correct to point out that, given their sensitivity, the outcomes of experimental setups such as the original PoundRebka configuration can be accounted for using solely the machinery of accelerating frames in special relativity (barring some subtleties due to the Rindler spacetime necessary to model the effects rigorously), nevertheless (ii) an explanation of the results of more sensitive gravitational redshift outcomes does in fact require more. Second, although typically this `more' is understood as the invocation of spacetime curvature within the framework of general relativity, in light of the socalled `geometric trinity' of gravitational theories, in fact curvature is not necessary to explain even these results. Thus (a) one can often explain the results of these experiments using only the resources of special relativity, and (b) even when one cannot, one need not invoke spacetime curvature. And third: while one might think that the absence of gravitational redshift effects would imply that spacetime is flat (indeed, Minkowskian), this can be called into question given the possibility of the `shielding' of gravitational effects by charge in the context of the ReissnerNordström metric. This argument is shown to be valid and both attractive forces as well as redshift effects can be effectively shielded (and even be repulsive or blueshifted, respectively) in the charged setting. Thus, it is not the case that the absence of gravitational effects implies a Minkowksian spacetime setting.
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