Published in Annalen der Physik, vol. 19, issue 6, pp. 389-418, 2010
http://arxiv.org/abs/0910.4333

For a PDF version of the article, click here.

WHAT KIND OF SCIENCE IS COSMOLOGY?

Hubert F. M. Goenner


Institut für Theoretische Physik - Universität Göttingen
Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1
37077 Göttingen


Abstract: In recent years, by theory and observation cosmology has advanced substantially. Parameters of the concordance or ΛCDM cosmological model are given with unprecedented precision ("precision cosmology"). On the other hand, 95% of the matter content of the universe are of an unknown nature. This awkward situation motivates the present attempt to find cosmology's place among the (exact) natural sciences. Due to its epistemic and methodical particularities, e.g., as a mathematized historical science, cosmology occupies a very special place. After going through some of the highlights of cosmological modeling, the conclusion is reached that knowledge provided by cosmological modeling cannot be as explicative and secure as knowledge gained by laboratory physics.


Key words : variational principles, gravitation, Riemannian geometry, cosmological modeling


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

THE CONTENT OF COSMOLOGY
The universe: a well defined physical system?
A mathematized historical science?
Other features peculiar to cosmology
Initial conditions

COSMOLOGICAL MODELING
General hypotheses
Primordial Nucleosynthesis
Empirical situation with regard to A2
Cosmological observation
More on the standard cosmological model
The concordance model of the universe (ΛCDM)
Matter content of unknown origin
Dark matter
Dark energy
Further conceptual pecularities of the standard model

THE INFLATIONARY FLASH
Particle cosmology
The inflationary model
ΛCDM-questionaire (implying inflation)

ORIGINATIVE COSMOLOGY
Quantum gravity
Quantum cosmology
Law of initial conditions?
The Wheeler-DeWitt equation
Puzzles of quantum cosmology
Make-believe cosmology: the multiverse
Multiverse models
Philosophical issues
Multiverse questionaire

THE SCIENCE OF COSMOLOGY
The epistemic value of cosmology
The explanatory value of cosmology
Comparison with other natural sciences
Error bars

CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

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