The challenge of relativistic cosmology to describe the universe


  • Giulia Schettino Institute of Applied Physics "Nello Carrara" (IFAC) - CNR



relativistic cosmology, general relativity, alternative theories of gravitation, philosophy of cosmology


The search for a theory capable to describe the origin, the evolution and the structure of the universe is a long-standing issue. Recently, experimental cosmology has reached an astonishing accuracy. Nevertheless, a comprehensive theory of the universe has not been entirely formulated and developed thus far.

Cosmology as an experimental science has to face unique challenges, due to the inaccessibility of the phenomena and processes under study and to the impossibility to reproduce them in a laboratory. These limits entail an extensive use of computer simulations, which become a fundamental tool of investigation, allowing to confront theoretical models and observations. This background arouses an intriguing philosophical debate concerning the inferential power of simulations in cosmology and their epistemic role.

This paper reviews the cornerstones of relativistic cosmology and of the main alternative proposals to relativity and proposes some considerations on the contribution that philosophy of cosmology can provide to the contemporary debate in cosmology.