When can a Computer Simulation act as Substitute for an Experiment? A Case-Study from Chemisty

Eckhart Arnold
Bavarian Academy of Sciences And Humanities
In this paper we investigate with a case study from chemistry under what conditions a simulation can serve as a surrogate for an experiment. The case-study concerns a simulation of H2-formation in outer space. We find that in this case the simulation can act as a surrogate for an experiment, because there exists comprehensive theoretical background knowledge in form of quantum mechanics about the range of phenomena to which the investigated process belongs and because any particular modelling assumptions as can be justified. If these requirements are met then direct empirical validation may even be dispensable. We conjecture that this is not the case in the absence of comprehensive theoretical background knowledge.
Keywords Philosophy of Chemistry  Computer Simulations
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Reprint years 2013
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