Sources 5

The Role of Gravitation in Physics

Report from the 1957 Chapel Hill Conference
The Chapel Hill conference also marked the establishment of the Institute of Field Physics, directed by Bryce and Cécile DeWitt. The conference was the inaugural conference of this institute.

The Chapel Hill conference also marked the establishment of the Institute of Field Physics, directed by Bryce and Cécile DeWitt. The conference was the inaugural conference of this institute.

This publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE) Licence.

In January 1957, a group of physicists from several countries met at the University of North Carolina to discuss the role of gravitation in physics. The program was divided into two broad sections: unquantized and quantized general relativity. The first section included a review of classical relativity, its experimental tests, the initial value problem, gravitational radiation, equations of motion, and unified field theory. The second section included a discussion of the motivation for quantization, the problem of measurement, and the actual techniques for quantization. In both sections the relationship of general relativity to fundamental particles was discussed. In addition there was a session devoted to cosmological questions. A large part of the discussions is reproduced in the present report in an abridged form, followed by a conference summary statement by P. G. Bergmann.
The Chapel Hill conference also marked the establishment of the Institute of Field Physics, directed by Bryce and Cécile DeWitt. The conference was the inaugural conference of this institute.



1 The Chapel Hill Conference in Context
Dean Rickles

2 The Authors

The Original Chapel Hill Report

Cécile DeWitt


Session I Unquantized General Relativity Chairman: B. S. DeWitt

3 The Present Position of Classical Relativity Theory and Some of its Problems
John Wheeler

4 The Experimental Basis of Einstein's Theory
R. H. Dicke

Session II Unquantized General Relativity, Continued
Chairman: P. G. Bergmann

5 On the Integration of the Einstein Equations
André Lichnerowicz

6 Remarks on Global Solutions
C. W. Misner

7 Solving The Initial Value Problem Using Cartan Calculus
Y. Fourès

8 Some Remarks on Cosmological Models
R. W. Bass, L. Witten

Session III Unquantized General Relativity, Continued
Chairman: H. Bondi

9 Gravitational Waves
L. Marder, Presented by H. Bondi

10 Gravitational Field of an Axially Symmetric System
N. Rosen, H. Shamir, Presented by F. Pirani

11 The Dynamics of a Lattice Universe
R. W. Lindquist

Session IV Invited Reports on Cosmology Chairman: F. J. Belinfante

12 Measurable Quantities that May Enable Questions of Cosmology to be Answered
Thomas Gold

13 Radio Astronomical Measurements of Interest to Cosmology
A. E. Lilley

Session V Unquantized General Relativity, Concluded
Chairman: A. Lichnerowicz

14 Measurement of Classical Gravitation Fields
Felix Pirani

15 Correspondence in the Generalized Theory of Gravitation
Behram Kursunoglu

16 Presentation of Work by T. Taniuchi
Ryoyu Utiyama

17 Negative Mass in General Relativity
Hermann Bondi

Session VI Quantized General Relativity Chairman: J. A. Wheeler

18 The Problems of Quantizing the Gravitational Field
P. G. Bergmann

19 Conceptual Clock Models
H. Salecker

20 The Three-Field Problem
F. J. Belinfante

Session VII Quantized General Relativity, Continued Chairman: A. Schild

21 Quantum Gravidynamics
Bryce DeWitt

Session VIII Quantized General Relativity, Concluded Chairman: V. Bargmann

22 The Possibility of Gravitational Quantization

23 The Necessity of Gravitational Quantization

Closing Session Chairman: B. S. DeWitt

24 Divergences in Quantized General Relativity
S. Deser

25 Critical Comments
R. P. Feynman

26 Summary of Conference
P. G. Bergmann

27 An Expanded Version of the Remarks by R.P. Feynmanon the Reality of Gravitational Waves

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Absorber theory of radiation

Age of Earth

Anderson, J. L.

Anthropic reasoning


Babson, R.

Bahnson, A.

Bargmann, V.

Bass, R.

Belinfante, F. J.

`Muddified theory’

Beltrami operator

Bergmann, P. G.

Betti numbers

Bianchi identities

Birkhoff’s fundamental theorem

Bondi, H.

Born-Infeld theory

Brill, D.R.

Buckingham, M. J.


Cartan calculus

Cauchy Problem

Christoffel symbols

Classification of 3-manifolds

Classification of metrics

Clock models

Commutation relations


Cosmological Principle
Cyclic cosmology

Coupling constants

Cygnus A

Cylindrical symmetry


Davis, W. R.

Debever, R.

Deser, S.

DeWitt, B. S.

Dimensionless numbers

Dirac, P. A. M.

Dirichlet problem

Distance measurements


Eddington, A. S.

Einstein-Rosen topology

Eötvös experiment

Equivalence Principle

and anti-matter

Ernst, F. J

Ether drift

Euler-Poincaré characteristic


Feynman quantization

Feynman, R. P.

Formation of Moon

Fourès, Y.

Friedman solution

Functional integration

Fundamental length


Gauge theoretic constraints

Dirac's Theorem
Dirac's method
Dirac’s method
Fermi’s method

Géhéniau, J.

General covariance

General relativity

analogy with electromagnetism
and atomic clocks
classic tests of
on a computer
variational principle


thermal geons

George Rideout

Glenn Martin Company

Global solutions

Gold, T.

Goldberg, J.

Gravitational waves

Gravity as a regulator

Gravity Research Foundation

Green's functions

Green’s functions

Gupta, S.


Hodge’s theorem

Hubble radius

Hydrodynamical analogy


Initial value problem

Invariants of the Riemann tensor

Involution property

Isothermal coordinates


Jansky, K.


Kervaire, M.

Komar, A.

Kursunoglu, B.


Lagrangian coordinates

Lagrangian mesh

Lamb shift

Laurent, B.

Lichnerowicz, A.

Lilley, A. E.

Lindquist, R. W.

Liquid Earth theory

Local invariants


Mach's Principle

Measurability of the electromagnetic field

Measurement of gravitational field

quantum limitations

Misner, C. W.

Mjolsness, R.

Møller, C.


Natural coordinates

Necessity of quantization of gravity


connection to gravitons

Newman, E. T.

Non-simply connected universe

Non-symmetric theory of gravitation


Parity violation

Particles as singularities

Petrov’s classification

Pirani, F. A. E.

Planck length

Planck mass

Pseudo-tensor formalism



Quantum field theory in curved spacetime


Rainich, Y.

Regge, T.

Regularity problem



Rosen, N.

Rosenfeld, L.


Salecker, H.

Schild, A.

Schiller, R. S.

Schwarzschild solution

Sciama, D.

Singularity of propagator


Steady-state theory


Thom, R.

Thought experiments

dangers of

Time-varying constants

Tonnelat, M. A.

Toy models

True Observables

Two-body problem


Ultraviolet divergences

Unified field theory

already unified field theory
problem of other fields

Utiyama, R.




Weber, J.

Wheeler, J. A.

Wigner-Seitz approximation

Witten, L.









Publication Date

Feb. 14, 2011

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Suggested Citation

Rickles, Dean and DeWitt, Cécile M. (2011). The Role of Gravitation in Physics: Report from the 1957 Chapel Hill Conference. Berlin: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften.

Submitted by

Jürgen Renn, Alexander Blum and Peter Damerow

Editorial Team

Beatrice Gabriel