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

Johannes Kästner and Eckhart Arnold

1 Introduction
2 Similarities and Differences between Simulations and Experiments
    2.1 Similarities of Simulations and Experiments
    2.2 Differences between Simulations and Experiments
3 Case Study: Simulation of H-2-Formation in Outer Space
4 Summary and Conclusions

2 Similarities and Differences between Simulations and Experiments

The debate whether simulations are experiments is motivated by the fact that simulations and experiments have many important features in common. In the following, we will briefly highlight the most important common features and differences between simulations and experiments. Although we cannot enter into all details of the debate here,[1] it will become apparent that despite many similarities some crucial differences between simulations and experiments remain which set them apart with respect to their possible epistemic role in science.

[1] A more detailed refutation of the arguments against the separation between simulations and experiments will be published separately Arnold (2013). A criticism that is similar in spirit as the one given there, has been formulated by Peschard (2011). Here we largely confine ourselves to setting out the positive reasons for distinguishing between simulations and experiments.

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