24/03/2022 – Lydia Patton: Theories and Parameters in Testing Frameworks for General Relativity

Thursday the 24th of March, at 15:00 Paris time (CET), at this Zoom link


Modeling methods in gravitational wave astronomy (GWA) are, understandably, geared toward detection and confirmation. Focus on GWA as a platform for testing reveals the need for a broader framework of analysis, showing how the background theory can be investigated. The paper begins with the problem of testing general relativity (GR) through astronomy, especially the role of parameters in theory testing.  The paper concludes with an analysis of recent testing methods. Yunes and Pretorius caution that a fundamental bias may be present due to the assumption of the correctness of general relativity built in to the methods, and propose  parametrized post-Einsteinian (PPE) framework for testing ‘generic’ deviations from GR’s predictions.  Mukherjee, Wandelt, and Silk propose another approach using the BAO scale to measure possible differences between EM and GW luminosity distance. In both cases, the use of parameters in the context of physics-informed modeling is analyzed as a basic method.

Biographical information:

Lydia Patton is a philosopher of science and a historian of the philosophy of science. She is Professor of Philosophy and Affiliate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society of Virginia Tech. Much of her recent work and work in progress centers on philosophical analysis of science and the history of science: especially on the development of experimental and formal methods, hypotheses, frameworks, and scientific communities. Her work focuses on finding links between that development and the process of theory building and testing. Recent work focuses on the development of gravitational wave astronomy, especially the LIGO project.

At the journal HOPOS, Patton edited Philosophy, Science, and History(Routledge, 2014), and co-edited, with Walter Ott, the collection Laws of Nature (Oxford University Press, 2018). She has been a speaker at more than 60 conferences, including the MidWest PhilMath Workshop, Black Hole Institute, the American Mathematical Society’s Joint Mathematics Meetings, the American Physical Society. In the spring of 2022, Patton will assume the Findlay Visiting Professorship at Boston University for one semester.  

Meeting information:

  • Thursday the 24rd of March, at 15:00 CET (Paris time), at this Zoom link

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