# Dayton Miller's Ether-Drift?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Interesting...

http://www.orgonelab.org/miller.htm

"The effect [of ether-drift] has persisted throughout. After considering all the possible sources of error, there always remained a positive effect." — Dayton Miller (1928, p.399)

"My opinion about Miller's experiments is the following. ... Should the positive result be confirmed, then the special theory of relativity and with it the general theory of relativity, in its current form, would be invalid. Experimentum summus judex. Only the equivalence of inertia and gravitation would remain, however, they would have to lead to a significantly different theory."
— Albert Einstein, in a letter to Edwin E. Slosson, July 1925

"I believe that I have really found the relationship between gravitation and electricity, assuming that the Miller experiments are based on a fundamental error. Otherwise, the whole relativity theory collapses like a house of cards."
— Albert Einstein, in a letter to Robert Millikan, June 1921 (in Clark 1971, p.328)

Related Other Physics Topics News on Phys.org
Unfortunately for Miller, the Einstein media craze pushed ether research into obscurity, and his efforts to prove his work were dismissed without proper scientific review. Einstein personally played a part in dismissing Miller's work, knowing that supporting it would end his special and general relativity theories. Perhaps the media pressure on Einstein was too great, had he acknowledged Miller's positive result, the backlash would have been too much to bear.

russ_watters
Mentor
This has been discussed HERE and HERE (though those other threads have run their course - I recommend quoting from them instead of moving the discussion to them).

Basically, Miller had sources of error he didn't take into account (environmental) and better experiments have been performed since then. There is nothing to his theory.

Russ_watters,

Basically, Miller had sources of error he didn't take into account (environmental) and better experiments have been performed since then. There is nothing to his theory.
Please give us an address where we can find Miller's experiments re-examination,
and also the better experiments that have been performed since then.

Thank you.

It is interesting to note what Einstein himself said about an ether:

http://www.tu-harburg.de/rzt/rzt/it/Ether.html [Broken]

This space-time variability of the reciprocal relations of the standards of space and time, or, perhaps, the recognition of the fact that "empty space'' in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic, compelling us to describe its state by ten functions (the gravitation potentials g), has, I think, finally disposed of the view that space is physically empty. But therewith the conception of the ether has again acquired an intelligible content, although this content differs widely from that of the ether of the mechanical undulatory theory of light. The ether of the general theory of relativity is a medium which is itself devoid of all mechanical and kinematical qualities, but helps to determine mechanical (and electromagnetic) events.

[...]

What is fundamentally new in the ether of the general theory of relativity as opposed to the ether of Lorentz consists in this, that the state of the former is at every place determined by connections with the matter and the state of the ether in neighbouring places, which are amenable to law in the form of differential equations; whereas the state of the Lorentzian ether in the absence of electromagnetic fields is conditioned by nothing outside itself, and is everywhere the same.

[...]

Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only wonld be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring-rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable inedia, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it.

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russ_watters
Mentor
Lama said:
Russ_watters,

Please give us an address where we can find Miller's experiments re-examination,
and also the better experiments that have been performed since then.

Thank you.
Did you look at either thread I posted? Both include links to experiments that support SR. The first contains http://www.weburbia.demon.co.uk/physics/experiments.html [Broken] link that has results for a dozen MM experiments, including several of Miller's.

For some reason, despite getting a wide spread of results in 4 experiments, he considered himself to have found the aether. Sounds to me like he latched on to a conclusion and refused to even consider his own data that contradicted it.

Also, a note on burden-of-proof: Miller's results were flawed due to errors. The burden of proof remains on aether "theorists" to provide evidence to support their claim.

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http://www.phy.duke.edu/~kolena/framedrag.html

"General relativity predicts that massive rotating objects
should drag space-time around themselves as they rotate," said
Pavlis. "Frame dragging is like what happens if a bowling ball
spins in a thick fluid such as molasses. As the ball spins, it
pulls the molasses around itself. Anything stuck in the molasses
will also move around the ball. Similarly, as the Earth rotates,
it pulls space-time in its vicinity around itself. This will
shift the orbits of satellites near the Earth.
Why have an ether, when there is space-time?

A review of his work by James DeMeo shows indisputable evidence that data collected by Miller was affected by the sidereal period and this is clear proof of a cosmological ether drift effect.

Normally any two-way Michelson-Morley type experiment carried out at sea-level would produce a null result. But Miller's insight was to conduct his tests at altitude (Mt. Wilson - 6,000' elevation), which produced clear positive results with a sidereal period variation.

I have followed up SR links that were suggested to show Miller was wrong and found tolerance issues and wrong assumptions. I can’t find anything wrong with Miller’s work. Is there a specific link that shows Miller’s work to be wrong?

russ_watters
Mentor
Russell E. Rierson said:

russ_watters said:
[Classical] Ether and space-time are not the same thing, contrary to a common(ly misunderstood) Einstein quote. Miller (and other MM experimenters) were looking for - but failed to find - the classical ether.

http://physicsweb.org/article/review/14/6/1

Most physics students learn from their textbooks that in 1905 Einstein banished the ether from physics as part of the revolution initiated by his special theory of relativity. What they generally do not learn is that in 1916 he reintroduced the concept as part of the revolution initiated by his general theory of relativity. The catch is, of course, that the ether he reintroduced differed fundamentally from the ether he had banished.

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/RelWWW/wrong.html#aether [Broken]

Nonetheless, gtr does not quite say there is nothing'' in empty space''; in general there will be gravitational waves running about, and these carry (very tiny) amounts of energy, which gravitate. So in this sense, a very different kind of aether'' in the very weak sense of there being something there'' in a vacuum (namely nonlocalizable gravitational field energy, metric properties of space'' in a 3+1 decomposition, etc.), could be said to enter into gtr.

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Of course, there is no preferred frame of reference, but the metric of space-time can be defined by events, such, that there is no space-time if there are no events.