University of Cambridge > > CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar > Listening to the chirps: how do the LIGO results test general relativity?

Listening to the chirps: how do the LIGO results test general relativity?

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LIGO ’s detection of gravitational waves is one of the most significant recent experimental results in physics. But moving from the data to conclusions about the parameters of the binary black hole (BBH) systems that are the data’s putative source is not trivial. And it is by means of parameter estimation that the real test of general relativity will take place. Many current presentations of the LIGO results focus on how the detection confirms general relativity, or Einstein’s predictions. But ideally the detection of BBH systems should provide a heuristic platform for further research, and for ever more rigorous testing of the theory. I explain how the results can be taken to decide between Newtonian theory and GR. But I also argue that existing ways of parsing the observed data could go farther to provide a platform for testing. Finally, the paper explores ways of analyzing the LIGO results to draw conclusions about how theories can be robust in applied contexts.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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