Authors: John A. Gowan
Einstein's "Equivalence Principle" asserts that a gravitational field cannot be distinguished from a suitably chosen accelerated reference frame - essentially because we cannot distinguish between the reciprocal cases of spacetime accelerating through us (gravity), or our own acceleration through spacetime (as in a rocket ship). Hence the equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass - classically recognized by Newton as the equivalence between inertial resistance and gravitational "weight", but not understood. Co-movers with a gravitational field (in free fall or orbit) experience no "weight" - the field apparently vanishes. This seminal observation allowed Einstein to equate gravitational and inertial fields in his General Theory of Relativity. Because there is another way to "vanish" a gravitational field, the possibility of extending Einstein's "Equivalence Principle" beyond inertial force is raised. The conversion of bound to free energy (mass to light) in many spontaneous astrophysical processes, such as stars (partially) and black holes (completely), "vanishes" the gravitational field that had been associated with the converted mass. This suggests a heuristic conceptual pathway for the unification of forces through Noether's symmetry conservation theorem via the equivalence of all charges and forces (including gravity) as symmetry debts of light: the charges of matter are the symmetry debts of light.
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