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Help me get modern please?

  1. Feb 3, 2008 #1
    When I was in my late teens I read a book called the "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukav, (those prepared to admit there age might remember it). It was all about the modern physics, then. That was 1979. It was one of those wow books of the time, like "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" which is also mentioned on the cover of Mr Zucav's Book. I read them all and soaked up what they said and it is fair to say that I wasn't that critical, just wowed. There where a lot of Ph.D's listed in the credits so why would I question it.

    Here I am, a mathmatically defineable number of years later, trying to catch up, again.

    I am not trying to start a debate, I am asking for help. Simple yes and no would would be great. My greed is telling me to ask for pointers to further reading if that is possible. If you can offer me any more than that, then I am already in your debt.


    If the light source is stationary and I blast toward it at 0.5C will I still measure the speed of the light as C?

    If the answer is yes, then is that considered to be a result of the effects of relativity on my measuring device and the necessity of having my detector tied to the light source for the sychronisation of the timing measurements?

    In the book I mentioned this aspect of the unversal consistency of light speed was said to be derrived from the results of the Michelson Morley Ether detection experiment. Have there been any other more modern experiments done on this aspect of the consistency of light speed?

    Michelson and Morley themselves postulated that the Earth carries a layer of Ether with it and that explained the negative results. FitzGerald postulated a compression, shortening of the measuring arm of the apparatus in the direction of the Earths motion. Lorentz made this postulate credible and then Einstein did the rest.

    The problem was that none of these theories where provable then, is that still essentially true?

    The book also states that quantum field theory postulated a kind of Ether in so far as particles are excited states of the featureless ground state, the vacuum. Is this still valid?

    Final question, should I have posted this question on a different section of the forum?

    My thanks to anyone who can help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2008 #2


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    Welcome John Richard,

    It is considered to be a fundamental property of the relation between space and time, aka spacetime. That means that every suitable measurement must yield this result. The statement "effects of relativity on my measuring device" could be misleading in this context as the measuring device is assumed to work just well and undisturbed.
    Michelson Morley is not enough to derive SR. The standard starting point for your research is certainly http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SR/experiments.html" [Broken].
    This view is inconsistent with certain experimental results, e.g. stellar aberration.
    Lorentz extended Fitzgerald's hypothesis considerably to make it consistent with observations. But there is a reason why Einstein is credited with the invention of SR: He was the first to recognise that there are no ether effects on the measuring devices to feign the constancy of c, but that c is really constant and rather space and time are different from what we thought.
    The starting point of Einstein's theory was the electrodynamics of moving bodies. Maxwell's well-tested equations already incorporated SR, but it took some time until someone really appreciated this fact.
    I think one might say so. It is important to notice that they merely recycled an obsolete word to use it in the popularisation of QFT. This ether is not very similar to the notion back then.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Feb 4, 2008 #3
    My grateful thanks to you Ich
  5. Feb 4, 2008 #4
    Dear Ich, I can't tell you how grateful I am for the link you gave me.

    Thank you again

  6. Feb 4, 2008 #5


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    You're welcome.
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