It ain’t necessarily so: Gravitational Waves and Energy Transport

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Duerr, Patrick
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In the following paper, I review and critically assess the four standard routes commonly taken to establish that gravitational waves (GWs) possess energy-momentum: the increase in kinetic energy a GW confers on a ring of test particles, Bondi/Feynman’s Sticky Bead Argument of a GW heating up a detector, nonlinearities within perturbation theory, taken to reflect the fact that gravity contributes to its own source, and the Noether Theorems, linking symmetries and conserved quantities. Each argument is found to either to presuppose controversial assumptions or to be outright spurious. I finally examine the standard interpretation of binary systems, according to which orbital decay is explained in terms of the system’s energy being via GW energy- momentum transport. I contend that a better interpretation, drawing only on the general-relativistic Equations of Motions and the Einstein Equations, is available - and in fact preferable; thereby also an inference to the best explanation for the vindication of GW energy-momentum is blocked.