Skip to main content

Physics as Spacetime Geometry

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Springer Handbook of Spacetime

Part of the book series: Springer Handbooks ((SHB))

Abstract

As there have been no major advancements in fundamental physics in the past decades it seems reasonable to reexamine the major explicit and especially implicit assumptions in fundamental physics to ensure that all logically possible research directions are identified. The purpose of this chapter is to outline such a direction. Minkowski’s program of regarding four-dimensional physics as spacetime geometry is rigorously and consistently employed to the already geometrized general relativity with the most stunning implication that gravitational phenomena are fully explained in the theory without the need to assume that they are caused by gravitational interaction. Then the real open question in gravitational physics seems to be how matter curves spacetime, not how to quantize the apparent gravitational interaction. In view of the difficulties encountered by quantum gravity, even the radical option that gravity is not a physical interaction deserves careful scrutiny due to its potential impact on fundamental physics as a whole. The chapter discusses the possible implications of this option for the physics of gravitational waves and for quantum gravity and ends with an example where regarding physics as spacetime geometry provides a straightforward explanation of a rather subtle issue in relativity – propagation of light in noninertial reference frames.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 269.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 349.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  1. M. Planck: Eight Lectures On Theoretical Physics Delivered at Columbia University in 1909 (Columbia Univ. Press, New York 1915) pp. 129–130, translated by A. P. Wills

    Google Scholar 

  2. N.D. Mermin: What’s bad about this habit?, Phys. Today 62, 8 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  3. H. Minkowski: Space and time. In: Space and Time: Minkowski’s Papers on Relativity, ed. by V. Petkov (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012)

    Google Scholar 

  4. H. Minkowski: The relativity principle. In: Space and Time: Minkowski’s Papers on Relativity, ed. by V. Petkov (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012) pp. 42–43

    Google Scholar 

  5. H.A. Lorentz: The Theory of Electrons and Its Applications to the Phenomena of Light and Radiant Heat, 2nd edn. (Dover, Mineola New York 2003), see also his comment on p. 321

    Google Scholar 

  6. H. Minkowski: Space and Time: Minkowski’s Papers on Relativity (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012)

    Google Scholar 

  7. V. Petkov: Relativity and the Nature of Spacetime, 2nd edn. (Springer, Heidelberg 2009)

    Google Scholar 

  8. G.F.R. Ellis, R.M. Williams: Flat and Curved Space-Times (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1988)

    Google Scholar 

  9. D.F. Wallace: Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (Norton, New York 2003) p. 259

    Google Scholar 

  10. W. Rindler: Relativity: Special, General, and Cosmological (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2001) p. 178

    Google Scholar 

  11. J.L. Synge: Relativity: The General Theory (North-Holland, Amsterdam 1960), p. ix

    Google Scholar 

  12. W. Rindler: Essential Relativity, 2nd edn. (Springer, New York 1977) p. 244

    Google Scholar 

  13. R. Geroch: General Relativity: 1972 Lecture Notes (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2013)

    Google Scholar 

  14. E. Mach: The Science of Mechanics, 6th edn. (La Salle, Illinois 1960)

    Google Scholar 

  15. V. Petkov: Inertia and Gravitation: From Aristotle’s Natural Motion to Geodesic Worldlines in Curved Spacetime (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012), Chap. 6 and Appendix C

    Google Scholar 

  16. J. Murugan, A. Weltman, G.F.R. Ellis (Eds.): Foundations of Space and Time: Reflections on Quantum Gravity (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  17. B. Booß-Bavnbek, G. Esposito, M. Lesch (Eds.): New Paths Towards Quantum Gravity (Springer, Berlin Heidelberg 2010)

    Google Scholar 

  18. D. Oriti (Ed.): Approaches to Quantum Gravity: Toward a New Understanding of Space, Time and Matter (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2009)

    Google Scholar 

  19. J.B. Hartle: Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein’s General Relativity (Addison Wesley, San Francisco 2003) p. 169

    Google Scholar 

  20. W. de Sitter: Over de relativiteit der traagheid: Beschouingen naar aanleiding van Einstein’s hypothese, K. Akad. Wet. Amst. 25, 1268–1276 (1917)

    Google Scholar 

  21. R.A.J.H.T. Hulse: Discovery of a pulsar in a binary system, Astrophys. J. 195, L51–L53 (1975)

    Google Scholar 

  22. M.J. Valtonen, H.J. Lehto: Outbursts in OJ287: A new test for the general theory of relativity, Astrophys. J. 481, L5–L7 (1997)

    Google Scholar 

  23. M.J. Valtonen, H.J. Lehto, K. Nilsson, J. Heidt, L.O. Takalo, A. Sillanpää, C. Villforth, M. Kidger, G. Poyner, T. Pursimo, S. Zola, J.-H. Wu, X. Zhou, K. Sadakane, M. Drozdz, D. Koziel, D. Marchev, W. Ogloza, C. Porowski, M. Siwak, G. Stachowski, M. Winiarski, V.-P. Hentunen, M. Nissinen, A. Liakos, S. Dogru: A massive binary black-hole system in OJ 287 and a test of general relativity, Nature 452, 851–853 (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  24. N. Rosen: Does gravitational radiation exist?, Gen. Relativ. Gravit. 10, 351–364 (1979)

    Google Scholar 

  25. F.I. Cooperstock: Does a dynamical system lose energy by emitting gravitational waves?, Mod. Phys. Lett. A14, 1531 (1999)

    Google Scholar 

  26. F.I. Cooperstock: The role of energy and a new approach to gravitational waves in general relativity, Ann. Phys. 282, 115–137 (2000)

    Google Scholar 

  27. J.H. Taylor, J.M. Weisberg: Further experimental tests of relativistic gravity using the binary pulsar PSR 1913+16, Astrophys. J. 345, 434–450 (1989)

    Google Scholar 

  28. S.A. Balbus, K. Brecher: Tidal friction in the binary pulsar system PSR 1913+16, Astrophys. J. 203, 202–205 (1976)

    Google Scholar 

  29. E.F. Taylor, J.A. Wheeler: Spacetime Physics, 2nd edn. (Freeman, New York 1992) p. 20

    Google Scholar 

  30. C.W. Misner, K.S. Thorne, J.A. Wheeler: Gravitation (Freeman, San Francisco 1973)

    Google Scholar 

  31. H. Ohanian, R. Ruffini: Gravitation and Spacetime, 2nd edn. (W.W. Norton, New York 1994), Sect. 4.4

    Google Scholar 

  32. E.F. Taylor, J.A. Wheeler: Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity (Addison Wesley Longman, San Francisco 2000), pp. 5–3, E-1

    Google Scholar 

  33. A. Einstein: Relativity: The Special and General Theory, The Masterpiece Science Edition (Pi Press, New York 2005) p. 97

    Google Scholar 

  34. P.A. Tipler: Physics, Vol. 3, 4th edn. (Freeman, New York 1999) p. 1272

    Google Scholar 

  35. R.L. Reese: University Physics, Vol. 2 (Brooks/Cole, New York 2000) p. 1191

    Google Scholar 

  36. R.A. Serway: Physics, Vol. 2, 4th edn. (Saunders, Chicago 1996) p. 1180

    Google Scholar 

  37. P.M. Fishbane, S. Gasiorowicz, S.T. Thornton: Physics (Prentice Hall, New Jersey 1993) p. 1192

    Google Scholar 

  38. W. Rindler: Counterexample to the Lenz-Schiff argument, Am. J. Phys. 36, 540 (1968)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vesselin Petkov Prof. Dr. .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Petkov, V. (2014). Physics as Spacetime Geometry. In: Ashtekar, A., Petkov, V. (eds) Springer Handbook of Spacetime. Springer Handbooks. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-41992-8_8

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-41992-8_8

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-41991-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-41992-8

  • eBook Packages: Physics and AstronomyPhysics and Astronomy (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics