Geometric model of gravity, counterfactual solar mass, and the Pioneer anomalies


This study analyses the predictions of the General Theory of Relativity (GTR) against a slightly modified version of the standard central mass solution (Schwarzschild solution). It is applied to central gravity in the solar system, the Pioneer spacecraft anomalies (which GTR fails to predict correctly), and planetary orbit distances and times, etc (where GTR is thought consistent.) The modified gravity equation was motivated by a theory originally called ‘TFP’ (Time Flow Physics, 2004). This is now replaced by the ‘Geometric Model’, 2014 [20], which retains the same theory of gravity. This analysis is offered partially as supporting detail for the claim in [20] that the theory is realistic in the solar system and explains the Pioneer anomalies. The overall conclusion is that the model can claim to explain the Pioneer anomalies, contingent on the analysis being independently verified and duplicated of course. However the interest lies beyond testing this theory. To start with, it gives us a realistic scale on which gravity might vary from the accepted theory, remain consistent with most solar-scale astronomical observations. It is found here that the modified gravity equation would appear consistent with GTR for most phenomena, but it would retard the Pioneer spacecraft by about the observed amount (15 seconds or so at time). Hence it is a possible explanation of this anomaly, which as far as I know remains unexplained now for 20 years. It also shows what many philosophers of science have emphasized: the pivotal role of counterfactual reasoning. By putting forward an exact alternative solution, and working through the full explanation, we discover a surprising ‘counterfactual paradox’: the modified theory slightly weakens GTR gravity – and yet the effect is to slow down the Pioneer trajectory, making it appear as if gravity is stronger than GTR. The inference that “there must be some tiny extra force…” (Musser, 1998 [1]) is wrong: there is a second option: “…or there may be a slightly weaker form of gravity than GTR.”

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