Did Einstein answer his own question: “Do gravitational waves exist?”?

We ended our previous post, 07/17/2012, by writing:
“…to be, or not to be continued – that is the question. We are on the verge of answering it.”

We, unlike GW hunters and for an obvious reason, cannot be “on the verge” for 50 years, although this term, “on the verge”, is probably outdated and now (see the end of Discussion
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1207.4759v1.pdf, July 19, 2012) “we [GW hunters] move toward the GW detection era”.

After a few days of doubts we give our answer: YES, we will continue.

The first (apparently historical) step is inspired by book [1], “Traveling at the speed of Thought”, which has a subtitle “Einstein and the quest for gravitational waves”. The discussion of Einstein’s views about existence of GW is abruptly stopped
in the end of chapter 5 (the total number of chapters is 12) ([1], p. 104): “At this point [1937] Einstein’s personal quest for gravitational waves came to an end”. This statement seems a little bit strange taking into account Infeld’s recollection of Einstein’s talk at Princeton who concluded it by stating ([1], p. 88): “If you ask me whether there are gravitational waves or not, I must answer that I do not know. But it is a highly interesting problem”. This talk was given after Einstein discovered that his proof was not good. “Did the retraction of his nonexistence proof mean that Einstein was cured of his skepticism? Perhaps not, or at any rate, not completely” (conclusion of [1], p. 97).

In 1937 Einstein did not stop working and publishing, he worked till his death (1955). In 1936 he considered the question about existence of gravitational waves to be “a highly interesting problem”. Is it possible that in the next 18 years he never mentioned gravitational waves and his “celebrated quadrupole formula [which] plays a central role in the history of gravitational waves” ([1], p. 65). Gravitational waves lead, according to [1] (chapter 6), to “the Renaissance of General Relativity”, become and continue to be the major topic of theoretical and experimental research.

It should not take a long time for us (because of [2]) to carefully go through Einstein’s papers after 1937 (a half of the second volume) and find out whether Einstein answered his own question “Do gravitational waves exist?” or his 1936 position “I do not know” was unaltered. By the way, his 1936 position is still correct. Looking at the results of experimental search we, at least now, have to say: “we do not know”.

[1] D. Kennefick, Traveling at the Speed of Thoughts, Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves, Princeton University Press, 2007.
[2] Альберт Эйнштейн, Собрание научных трудов в четырех томах, Издательство “Наука”, Москва, 1965-1967 (four volumes collection of scientific works of A.Einstein):
v.1 Works on the theory of relativity 1905-1920;
v.2 Works on the theory of relativity 1921-1955;
v.3 Works on kinetic theory, theory of radiation and fundamentals of quantum mechanics 1901-1955;
v.4 Some articles (in non-scientific journals, newspapers), book reviews, etc. 1913-1955, and in Appendix his letters to Maurice Solovine 1906-1955.

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One Response to Did Einstein answer his own question: “Do gravitational waves exist?”?

  1. Andrei says:

    Do you have already the answer after the search through the complete collection of Einstein works in Russian ?
    I would think, that there should be at least one PhD thesis in the history of science, which could bring some light in this so intensively searched topic (I meant GW search :)).

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