Tuesday, 11 October 2011
On the Status of the Geodesic Principle in Newtonian and Relativistic Physics
James Owen Weatherall, Department of Philosophy
University of California, Irvine
817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: A theorem due to Bob Geroch and Pong Soo Jang ["Motion of a Body in General Relativity." Journal of Mathematical Physics 16(1), (1975)] provides a sense in which the geodesic principle has the status of a theorem in General Relativity (GR). I have recently shown that a similar theorem holds in the context of geometrized Newtonian gravitation (Newton-Cartan
theory) [Weatherall, J. O. "The Motion of a Body in Newtonian Theories."
Journal of Mathematical Physics 52(3), (2011)]. In this talk, I will compare the interpretations of these two theorems. I intend to argue that despite some apparent differences between the theorems, the status of the geodesic principle in geometrized Newtonian gravitation is, mutatis mutandis, strikingly similar to the relativistic case.