In the 19th century most physicists accepted the old idea that all of space is filled with an elusive substance called the “luminiferous ether”. It was well known that. You were a sensical theory, luminiferous ether. And physicists love when things make sense. But science need not make sense—the universe. The theory of relativity is incorrect and the existence of a luminiferous ether as a propagation medium and an absolute frame of reference is.

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Wikiquote has quotations related to: See also the English translation Archived at the Wayback Machine. Michelson did many other independent experiments with the same purpose over many years. That is, the light was being affected in the “natural” manner by its travel though the aether as predicted, but so was the apparatus itself, cancelling out any difference when measured. Let’s say it’s a really long string and right now there’s some slack in it.

Then you have this traveling disturbance. He wrote another paper inentitled ” A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field “, in which the details of the luminiferous medium were less explicit.

George Green pointed out that such a fluid would be unstable. Ina crucial experiment was performed by Michelson and Edward Morley in an attempt to detect the existence of the ether. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

Well, for a long time, people said, well it must be. This effect is now known as stellar aberration. A coherent beam of light is produced and then split in two.

The optical experiments of Thomas Young and Augustin de Fresnel at the beginning of the nineteenth century helped revived the wave theory of light. I’m just showing you even one example of light behaving like a wave. You’re gonna have this disturbance, which is this wave, this lump that I just generated.

Another, completely different attempt to save “absolute” aether was made in the Lorentz—FitzGerald contraction hypothesiswhich posited that everything was affected by travel through the aether.

Michelson used the instrument to measure the gravitational constant, indices of refraction, soap film thickness, coefficients of expansion, and to test screw pitch uniformity, analysis of spectral lines, and stellar aberration, all with a precision never before achieved.


He concluded that “one cannot deny the bearer of these concepts a certain substantiality”. That disturbance kept traveling through the medium.

Luminiferous aether

So I move ethed hand up and down. As the Earth moves around the sun, the apparent angle to a given distant spot changes. Additionally it appeared it had to be completely transparent, non-dispersive, incompressibleand continuous at a very small scale.

The speed of propagation for mechanical waves, the speed of soundis defined by the mechanical properties of the medium. Today there are models that fill all space with a “sea” of virtual particles, dark matter, and dark energy.

It also had to be massless and without viscosityotherwise it would visibly affect the orbits of planets. Contact our editors with your feedback. They cannot imagine light moving through “nothing”.

The Michelson-Morley Experiment, the Luminiferous Ether, and Precision Measurement

In and [A 14] [A 15] he physically interpreted Lorentz’s local time as the result of clock synchronization by light signals. Then along came Einstein’s relativity inwhich accounted for the experimental observations without ever invoking an ether. Fizeau experiment Sagnac experiment Michelson—Gale—Pearson experiment. According to Boyle, the aether consists of subtle particles, one sort of which explains the absence of vacuum and the mechanical interactions between bodies, and the other sort of which explains phenomena such as magnetism and possibly gravity that are, otherwise, inexplicable on the basis of purely mechanical interactions of macroscopic bodies, “though in the ether of the ancients there was nothing taken notice of but a diffused and very subtle substance; yet we are at present content to allow that there is always in the air a swarm of steams moving in a determinate course between the north pole and the south”.

Thus the Earth could move through it fairly freely, but it would be rigid enough to support light. This luminiferous ether that the light is traveling through. Called the ether, or the luminiferous ether, this medium was thought to permeate all of space.

In this lecture Einstein stressed that special relativity took away the last mechanical property of the aether: Over the years the experimental accuracy of such measurements has been raised by many orders of magnitude, and no trace of any violations of Lorentz invariance has been seen. It did, however, play a significant role in convincing many physicists of the theory’s validity, supporting as it did Einstein’s postulate of the absolute constancy of the velocity of light.


Then they’re gonna bounce on the ones next to them. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context. InWilhelm Luminiferrous Weber and Rudolf Kohlrausch measured the numerical lumniferous of the ratio of the electromagnetic unit of charge to the electrostatic unit of charge. This was further elaborated by Einstein in some semi-popular articles, A summary of Einstein’s thinking about the aether hypothesis, relativity and light quanta may be found in his originally German lecture “The Development of Our Views on the Composition and Essence of Radiation”.

The latter theory was not considered as correct, since it was not compatible with the aberration of lightand the auxiliary hypotheses developed to explain this problem were not convincing. In addition, Maxwell’s equations required that all electromagnetic waves in vacuum propagate at a fixed speed, c.

The Michelson-Morley experiment physical sciences In principles of physical science: Is not the Heat of the warm Room convey’d through the vacuum by the Vibrations of a much subtiler Medium than Air, which after the Air was drawn out remained in the Vacuum? The medium here is the water. As historians such as John Stachel argue, Einstein’s views on the “new aether” are not in conflict with his abandonment of the aether in These air particles get ultra-compressed.

Then a few seconds later, it’s gonna look like this.

Ether — from Eric Weisstein’s World of Physics

kuminiferous In this work he demonstrated that light can be considered as particles that have a “wave-like nature”. Wave light can interfere with each other.

This was initially interpreted to mean that the medium drags the aether along, with a portion of the medium’s velocity, but that understanding became very problematic after Wilhelm Veltmann demonstrated that the index n in Fresnel’s formula depended upon the wavelength of light, so that the aether could not be moving at a wavelength-independent speed.

In Einstein publicly alluded to that new definition for the first time. The Michelson-Morley experiment had only a minor and indirect role in the genesis of Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Thus, longitudinal waves can not explain birefringencein which two polarizations of light are refracted differently by a crystal.