A family of metric gravities
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The goal of this paper is to take a completely fresh approach to metric gravity, in which the metric principle is strictly adhered to but its properties in local space-time are derived from conservation principles, not inferred from a global field equation. The global field strength variation then gains some flexibility, but only in the regime of very strong fields (2nd-order terms) whose measurement is now being contemplated. So doing provides a family of similar gravities, differing only in strong fields, which could be developed into meaningful verification targets for strong fields after the manner in which far-field variations were used in the 20th century. General Relativity (GR) is shown to be a member of the family and this is demonstrated by deriving the Schwarzschild metric exactly from a suitable field strength assumption. The method of doing so is interesting in itself because it involves only one differential equation rather than the usual four. Exact static symmetric field solutions are also given for one pedagogical alternative based on potential, and one theoretical alternative based on inertia, and the prospects of experimentally differentiating these are analyzed. Whether the method overturns the conventional wisdom that GR is the only metric theory of gravity and that alternatives must introduce additional interactions and fields is somewhat semantical, depending on whether one views the field strength assumption as a field and whether the assumption that produces GR is considered unique in some way. It is of course possible to have other fields, and the local space-time principle can be applied to field gravities which usually are weak-field approximations having only time dilation, giving them the spatial factor and promoting them to full metric theories. Though usually pedagogical, some of them are interesting from a quantum gravity perspective. Cases are noted where mass measurement errors, or distributions of dark matter, can cause one theory to mimic another implying that such estimates or distributions should be first obtained from weak-field measurements before being used to discriminate verification candidates. By this method theorists gain insight into the local constraints on space-time, and GR verification gains strong-field comparative objectives.
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