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Talk Daniel Kennefick

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Waves without Energy - Einstein and the Enigma of Gravitational Waves: Do They Actually Transport Energy?

An important historical debate concerning gravitational waves was the question of whether they carry energy and, if so, how much energy they carry away from a source. The argument began early, with doubts expressed by the mathematician Tullio Levi-Civita over Einstein's handling of this question in his early papers on gravitational waves. Einstein himself contributed to this scepticism by briefly arguing, in 1936, that gravitational waves did not exist. His two assistants from that year, Nathan Rosen and Leopold Infeld, both expressed scepticism in gravitational waves in the 1950s. However the Feynman-Bondi thought experiment, based upon the work of Felix Pirani, gave many confidence that the waves did carry energy and extensive work on the back reaction problem eventually led to a consensus that binary systems did radiate gravitational waves. A final stage of the debate was the quadrupole formula controversy, over whether the rate of emission from binary
stars was given, at leading order, by that formula. Eventually close theoretical cooperation between Thibault Damour and others and the 1913+16 binary pulsar team of Joseph Taylor and collaborators demonstrated that this formula too was correct (again, to leading order).

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