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How do we eliminate the existance of luminiferous aether?

  1. May 13, 2015 #1
    According to Maxwell's equation, the speed of light, ##C_0 = \frac{1}{\sqrt{\epsilon_0\mu_0}}##, is a constant regarding to some form of medium, called luminiferous aether. Shortly after the death of Maxwell, Michelson-Morley Experiment shows that the speed of light is constant regarding to the Earth. However, this experiment did not necessarily prove that aether does not exist. It was still possible, as some scientists stated at that time, that aether might be dragged by and attached with the earth.

    Einstein, in his paper On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, claimed that the existance of aether was unnecessary. However, his work is inadequate to prove that aether does not exist.

    Regardless of the profound consistency of Einstein's Relativity with the reality, is there any experiment proving that aether does not exist?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2015 #2


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    It may seem strange to you, but that's not how physics works. Its not needed to prove that aether does not exist(lets just put aside what it means for aether to exist!). Its exactly how Einstein put it. The existence of aether is unnecessary for physics, we can explain things without aether. And also aether theories are much more complicated than theories without it. So we have something complicated which doesn't give us any benefit and there are simpler alternatives. Any physicist will go for the simpler alternatives. That's how physics works.
  4. May 13, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    The aether drag hypothesis is ruled out by ring interferometers (Sagnac effect).
  5. May 14, 2015 #4


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    I believe the claim about the implications of Maxwell's equation is also incorrect if the principle of relativity applies. Maxwell's equations would only work in one frame otherwise. My understanding is that was one of the things that led Einstein to the constancy of C.
  6. May 14, 2015 #5


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    No, and there cannot be if Special Relativity comports with reality. Any Inertial Reference Frame could be the aether rest frame. In his 1905 paper introducing Special Relativity, Einstein called the idea of the aether "superfluous", not required for his theory. But he never said that his theory or any experiment proved or could prove that aether does not exist.
  7. May 14, 2015 #6


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    You might want to look up Russell's[/PLAIN] [Broken] teapot, concerning the difficulty of proving the non-existence of something. If you want to postulate the existence of luminiferous ether, it is up to you to prove that it does exist, not up to the rest of us to prove that it does not exist. It has never been proven that fairies or leprechauns do not exist either.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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