- Timeline of luminiferous aether
timelineof luminiferous aetherbegins in the late 19th centurywith the concept of luminiferous aether ("light-bearing aether"), or ether, as a medium for electromagneticpropagation. The aether was assumed to exist for much of the 19th century -- until the Michelson-Morley experimentreturned the famous "null result". Further experimentswere in general agreement and by the 1920sthe aether was mostly assumed "not" to exist.
1704- Isaac Newtonpublishes " Opticks", in which he proposes a particle theory of light. This had trouble explaining refraction, so he adds a "fudge factor", claiming that an "Aethereal Medium" is responsible for this effect, and going further to suggest it might be responsible for other physical effects such as heat.: 1727- James Bradleymeasures stellar aberrationfor the first time, proving (again) that light has a finite speed as well as that the Earth is moving.: 1818- Augustin Fresnelintroduces the wave theory of light, which proposes light is a transverse wave travelling in an aether, thereby explaining how polarizationcan exist. It is important to note that both Newton's particle theory and Fresnel's wave theory both assume an aether exists, albeit for different reasons. From this point on, no one even seems to question its existence.: 1820- Discovery of Siméon Poisson's "Bright Spot", supporting the Wave Theory.: 1830- Fresnel develops a formula for predicting and measuring aether dragging by massive objects, based on a coupling constant. Such dragging seems to be at odds with aberration however, which would require the Earth "not" to drag the aether in order to be visible.:: George Gabriel Stokesbecomes a champion of the dragging theory.: 1851- Armand Fizeaucarries out his famous experiment with light travelling through moving water. He measures fringing due to motion of the water, perfectly in line with Fresnel's formula. However he sees no effect due to the motion of the Earth, although he does not comment on this. Nevertheless this is seen as very strong evidence for aether dragging.: 1868- Martinus Hoekcarries out an improved version of Fizeau's using an interferometerexperiment with one arm in water. He sees no effect at all, and cannot offer an explanation as to why his experiment is so at odds with Fizeau's.: 1871- George Biddell Airyre-runs Bradley's experiment with a telescope filled with water. He too sees no effect. It appears that aether is "not" dragged by mass.: 1873- James Clerk Maxwellpublishes his " Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism".: 1878to 1880- Maxwell suggests absolute velocity of Earth in aether may be optically detectable.: 1881- Albert Abraham Michelsonpublishes his first interferometer experiments, using the device for the measurement of extremely small distances.:: Hendrik Antoon Lorentzfinds Michelson's calculation have errors (i.e., doubling of the expected fringe shift error).: 1882- Michelson acknowledges his interpretation errors.
1887- the Michelson-Morley experiment(MMX) produces the famous null result. A small drift is seen, but it is too small to support any "fixed" aether theory, and is so small that it might be due to experimental error.:: Many physicists dust off Stokes' work, and dragging becomes the "standard solution": 1887 to 1888- Heinrich Hertzverifies the existence of electromagnetic waves.: 1889- George FitzGeraldproposes the Contraction Hypothesis, which suggests that the measurements are null due to changes in the length in the direction of travel through the aether.: 1892- Oliver Lodge demonstrates that aether drag is invisible around rapidly moving celestial bodies.: 1895- Lorentz proposes independently the Contraction Hypothesis.: 1902to 1904- Morley and Morley conduct a number of MM experiments with a 100 ft interferometer, producing the null result.: 1903- the Trouton-Noble experiment, based on an entirely different concept using electrical forces, also produces the null result : 1905- Miller and Morley's experiment data is published. Test of the Contraction Hypothesis has negative results. Test for aether dragging effects produces null result.: 1908- the Trouton-Rankine experiment, another experiment based on electrical effects, does not detect the Fitzgerald Contraction.
1904- Hendrik Lorentzpublishes a new theory of moving bodies, without discarding the stationary ether concept.: 1905- Henri Poincareshows that Lorentz's theory fulfills the principle of relativity, and publishes the Lorentz transformations.: 1905- Albert Einsteinpublishes essentially the same theory, but complete with a derivation from principles alone (leaving the ether aside) and with more elaboration (time dilation, Doppler). He later labelled it special relativity.: 1908- Trouton-Rankine experimentshows that length contractionof an object according to one frame does not produce a measurable change of resistance in the object's rest frame: 1913- Georges Sagnacuses a rotating MMX device and receives a clearly positive result. The so-called Sagnac effectwas considered excellent evidence for aether at the time, but was later explained via general relativity. Good explanations based on SR also exist.: 1914- Walther Zurhellenuses observations of binary stars to determine if the speed of light is dependent on movement of the source. His measurements show that it is not to 10-6. This is claimed to be additional evidence against aether dragging.: 1915- Einstein publishes on the general theory of relativity.: 1919- Arthur Eddington's Africa eclipse expedition is conducted and appears to confirm the general theory of relativity.: 1921- Dayton Millerconducts aether drift experiments at Mount Wilson. Miller performs tests with insulated and non-magnetic interferometers and obtains positive results.: 1921to 1924- Miller conducts extensive tests under controlled conditions at Case University.: 1924- Miller repeats his experiments at Mount Wilson and yields a positive result.:: Rudolf Tomascheckuses stars for his interferometer light source, getting the null result.: 1925- the Michelson-Gale-Pearson experimentproduces a positive result while attempting to detect the effect of Earth's rotation on the velocity of light. The significance of the experiment remains debated to this day, but this planetary Sagnac effect is measured by ring laser gyros and taken into account by the GPS system.: 1925April - Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences.:: Arthur Comptonexplains the problems with the Stokes aether drag solution.:: Miller presents his positive results of the aether drag.: 1925December - American Association for the Advancement of Sciencemeeting.:: Miller proposes two theories to account for the positive result. One consists of a modified aether theory, the other a slight departure from the Contraction Hypothesis.: 1926- Roy J. Kennedyproduces a null result on Mount Wilson:: Auguste Piccardand Ernest Stahelproduce a null result on Mont Rigi.: 1927- Mount Wilson conference.:: Miller talks of partial entrainment:: Michelson talks about aether drag and altitude differential effects:: K. K. Illingworthproduces a null result using a clever version of the MMX with a step in one mirror that dramatically improves resolution. The resolution is so good that most partial entrainment systems can be eliminated.: 1929- Michelson and F. G. Peaseperform the Pearson experimentand produce a null result.: 1930- Georg Joosproduces a null result using an extremely accurate interferometer placed entirely in vacuum.: 1932- the Kennedy-Thorndike experimentuses an interferometer with arms of different lengths and not at right angles. They measure over several seasons and record on photographs to allow better post-measurement study. The Kennedy Thorndike experiment becomes one of the fundamental tests for SR, proving the independence of light speed wrt to the speed of the emitting source. The other two fundamental tests are Michelson-Morley experiment(proves light speed isotropy) and Ives-Stilwell experiment(proves time dilation): 1934- Georg Joospublishes on the Michelson-Gale-Pearson experiment, stating that it is improbable that aether would be entrained by translational motion and not by rotational motion.: 1935- Hammar experimentdisproves aether entrainment
1955- R. S. Shankland, S. W. McCuskey, F. C. Leone, and G. Kuertiperformed an analysis of Miller's results and explained them as stemming from systematic errors (Shankland's explanation is now widely accepted).: 1958- Cedarholm, Havens, and Townes use two masers frequency locked to each other and send the light in two directions. They receive the null result. The experiment is not as accurate as earlier light-based MMX experiments, but demonstrates a novel setup that would become much more accurate in the future.: 1964Jaseja, Javan, Murray and Townes repeat the earlier experiment with newer and much more accurate masers.: 1969- Shamir and Fox repeat the MMX experiment with the "arms" in acrylic glasswaveguides and a highly stable laseras the source. The experiment should detect a shift as small as ~0.00003 of a fringe, and none is measured.: 1972- R. S. Shankland admits he would not likely have given the effort to question Dayton Miller's work had it not been for Albert Einstein's "interest and encouragement.": 1973- Trimmer finds a null result in a triangular interferometer with one leg in glass.: 1977- Brecher repeates Zurhellen's experiment with binary pulsars, showing no difference in light speed to 2*10-9 : 1979Brillet and Hall use the Townes setup with highly accurate lasers, demonstrating no drift to 3 parts in 1015. Interestingly the experiment also demonstrates a leftover 17 Hz signal, but the authors assume it is linked to the laboratory.: 1984- Torr and Kolen find a cyclic phase shift between two atomic clocks, but the distance between is relatively short (0.5 km) and their clocks of the less-precise rubidium type: 1988- Gagnon et al. measure one way light speed and detect no anisotropy: 1990- Hils and Hall repeat the Kennedy-Thorndike experiment with lasers, taking measurements over the period of a year. They find no shifting in 2 10-13
: Krisher et al., Phys. Rev. D, 42, No. 2, pp. 731-734, (1990) use two hydrogen masers fixed to the earth and separated by a 21 km fiber-optic link to look for variations in the phase between them. They put an upper limit on the one-way linear anisotropy of 100 m/s.:
1991- Over a six-month period, Roland DeWitte finds, over a 1.5 km underground coaxial cable, a cyclic component in the phase drift between higher-precision cesium-beam clocks on more-or-less the same meridian; the period equals the sidereal day[http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/1998-12/msg0013719.html] [http://www.scieng.flinders.edu.au/cpes/people/cahill_r/HPS16.pdf] : 2003- Holger Mueller and Achim Peters carry out a "Modern Michelson-Morley Experiment using Cryogenic Optical Resonators" at Humboldt University, Berlin. They find no shifting in 10-15 [http://link.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v91/e020401]
* Banesh Hoffman, "Relativity and Its Roots" (Freeman, New York, 1983).
* Michael Janssen, [http://www.tc.umn.edu/~janss011/pdf%20files/ether.pdf 19th Century Ether Theory] , "Einstein for Everyone" course at UMN (2001).
* Wallace Kantor, "Relativistic Propagation of Light" (Coronado Press, 1976), [http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/wcpa/top3mset/2885593 WorldCatLibraries.org]
* Maxwell, Collected Papers, H. A. Lorentz, Archives Neerlandaises, xxi. 1887, and xxv. 1892
* Versuch einer Theorie der electrischen und optischen Erscheinungen in bewegten Korpern (Leyden, 1895)
* "Elektrodynamik " and " Elektronentheorie " in the Encyk. der Math. Wissenschaften, Band v. 13, 14
* O. Lodge, " On Aberration Problems," Phil. Trans. 1893 and 1897
* J. Larmor, Phil. Trans. 1894-95-97, and a treatise, Aether and Matter (1900) p. 262
* P. K. L. Drude, A. Schuster, R. W., General physics of the aether;
* Collected Papers of
* Electricity (History of discovery)
History of electromagnetism
* Light (Wave theory)
* Luminiferous aether (The history of light and aether)
External links and references
* OCR scan of the aether listing in the 1911 edition encyclopedia [http://68.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AE/AETHER.htm page 1] [http://72.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AE/AETHER_OR_ETHER.htm page 2]
* James DeMeo: [http://www.orgonelab.org/miller.htm "Dayton Miller's Ether-Drift Experiments: A Fresh Look"]
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