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Luminiferous ether?

  1. Jan 23, 2009 #1
    Yeah, unless you look at Miller and Allais's work.

    A close inspection of all the interferometer tests conducted will turn up some surprising results.

    First off, all the interferometers in all the tests ever done detected a fringe shift.

    The debate centered on whether that fringe shift was due to an aether.

    All the tests except Miller's (which was by far the most extensive) declared a "Null" result. Which means to say they found fringe shift, but it didn't match the expected amount predicted by an unentrained aether theory.

    Entrainment is the theory that an aether would move along with an object moving through it. An example would be a blanket of aether being pulled along by the earth as it moved through space or some other mechanism that would reduce the flow of aether across the light beam thereby reducing the fringe shift found.

    Miller, suspecting this from previous experiments, set about conducting his experiment with the least amount of obstructions between the environment and his interferometer. He also conducted his experiment on a mountain top where he suspected the movement of the aether would be the most pronounced if it was entrained. This lead to criticism of his findings saying the fluctuations in his readings were the result of temperature variation and not the earth’s movement, but Miller was methodical in his approach and took extreme precautions to rule out temperature interference in his readings. The “temperature” scandal has its own interesting story behind it worthy of a TV drama. Needless to say, Miller was not so stupid as to not account for temperature variations.

    To my knowledge only a handful of short tests were done on object level entrained aether and no tests were done refuting the global entrainment hypothesis. Object level entrainment tests were done by shielding one end of the light beam with lead blocks. If the entrainment was at the global level, such a test could be expected to fail.

    Miller’s findings supported global entrainment after he finished conducting his tests. Miller's results, which can be found here, show he actually was able to calculate the observed movement of the earth through his readings. His findings were later confirmed by Allais in a paper presented here.

    It’s important to point out the differences in the way all the tests were conducted. To date, no one has ever done a full blown recreation of Miller's work; they have only done similar experiments, but not the same. Some have faithfully recreated the interferometer or even used better interferometers, but none have taken all of Miller's methodology into account.

    Miller's story is actually quite fascinating and politically charged. One could write a whole book on the subject so it’s kind of hard to get into all the details in a forum post.

    It is also interesting to note that gravitational wave observatories are really nothing more than super duper laser interferometers, direct descendants of Michelson and Miller’s light beams.

    A recent pronouncement by the GEO600 states “For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector.” The scientists go on to say this is caused because the universe is actually a giant hologram (LOL); however, such noise would be expected in such a sensitive instrument if a globally entrained aether was real ;)

    To date, no finding by any astronomical instrument has conclusively and indisputably ruled out the entrained aether hypothesis. I know this is a bold statement, but when you look at our current theories which are based in large part on assumptions and observation, you’ll find that there isn’t any single one thing we can point too that would irrefutably rule out Miller’s findings.

    The closest findings we have that rule out the entrained aether hypothesis are similar interferometer experiments done by Hammar, Gale, and Michelson. But again, no one has ever bothered to do a full blown recreation of Miller’s work, top-to-bottom, using all of his same methodologies. The papers critical of Miller’s work are controversial themselves because of the politics involved. Claiming temperature as the cause for the fluctuations which just happened to fluctuate in exactly the same manner as the earth’s observed movement in sidereal time, and they selectively discarded large portions of Miller’s data rather than looking at the entire body of evidence.

    If you’re looking for scientific drama, you’ll find it in Miller’s story.
     
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  3. Jan 23, 2009 #2

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    Just quickly ... (bold added)

    Is such a "conclusive[] and indisputabl[e]" ruling out possible, even in principle?

    Surely the best one can do is show that a particular experimental or observational result is inconsistent with a clearly defined, quantitative hypotheses to some level of confidence, or within x sigma of the estimate errors, (or similar)?

    More broadly, to what extent does any sufficiently specific aether idea* pass all the (other) experimental and observational tests (within its domain of applicability)? I don't know the answer to that, but I would imagine that a sizable subset of the tests which GR has passed would rather severely constrain large regions of aether idea* parameter space, for example.

    And in any case, doesn't GR (+/- other stuff) have greater utility, as a scientific theory? In that its explanatory and predictive power is far greater than that of any aether idea*.

    * in the historical sense, not any modern stuff that uses "aether" (per marcus' post)
     
  4. Jan 23, 2009 #3
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    I think we could conclusively rule out or accept the aether model postulated by Miller if we were to undertake a serious attempt at reproducing his work.

    I think a reproduction of Miller's work is entirely called for in light of the GEO and LIGO findings.

    Its certainly more acceptable to me that an aether exists than we are some kind of holographic projection from the edge of the universe haha.

    I would think the implications of such an aether existing are fairly profound, but I'm sure you would know better than I.
     
  5. Jan 23, 2009 #4

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    The "GEO findings" are presumably what's in the New Scientist article that you link to (in your previous post). If so, perhaps it's a little premature to jump to the conclusion that a full-blown reproduction of Miller's work is called for*? I mean, not only is this GEO stuff not yet in a peer-reviewed (published) paper, but even New Scientist (not exactly well-known for its insistence on accuracy, shall we say), in that very article, says "No one - including Hogan - is yet claiming that GEO600 has found evidence that we live in a holographic universe. It is far too soon to say. "There could still be a mundane source of the noise," Hogan admits."

    What are "the LIGO findings"? They are not mentioned in either of your posts.

    Finally, do you have a reference to back this up: "however, such noise [inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector] would be expected in such a sensitive instrument if a globally entrained aether was real ;)"?

    That may well be so.

    However, what I was asking was the extent to which other, already well-established experimental or observational results are good enough to "conclusively rule out [...] the aether model postulated by Miller". Saying this another way, what is it about the Miller experiments that make them the only (or by far the best) possible tests of his model/hypothesis/idea?


    * much less that we live in a holographic universe, or that there is an entrained aether, or ...
     
  6. Jan 23, 2009 #5
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    LIGO hasn't been able to detect a gravitational wave from any source eventhough by all rights it is more than sensitive enough to do so.

    It is experiencing the same "noise" that the GEO detector is.

    Miller's experiment is cheap to reproduce, therefore I don't see why it shouldn't be done. A reputable team of scientists could probably reproduce an even better measurement of motion than Miller using modern equipment. Heck, you can build your own interferometer using some mirrors and a pen laser for 20 bucks haha. Have some professor set up the experiment and have some grad students run it for free.

    Btw, I was wrong when I said only Miller had found evidence of motion. Apparently there are more avid researchers of aether theory out there than I thought.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminiferous_aether

    1925-26, D C Miller. The earth's velocity through the ether at 208 km/s. Carried out with Interferometer, continuous light.

    1927, K. Illingworth- analyzed by R. Cahill & Kitto, 2003. The earth's velocity through the ether 369 +/-123 km/s. Carried out with Interferometer, continuous light.

    1973, Stefan Marinov. Earth abs. velocity along instrument axis 130+/-100 km/s.Carried out with Rotating mirrors, chopped light.

    1975-76, Stefan Marinov, The earth's velocity through the ether at 303 +/-20km/s. Carried out with Interferometer, rotating mirrors, chopped light.

    1976, Muller et al. Earths Velocity towards Leo ~ 400.

    1977, G. Smoot et al. The earth's velocity through the ether at 390+/-60 km/s.

    1978?, Wilkinson and Corey. The earth's velocity through the ether at 320+/-80 km/s.

    1978-96, C. Monstein and J. Wesley. The earth's velocity through the ether at 359 +/-180 km/s. UsedMuon flux anisotropy.

    1984, Stefan Marinov. The earth's velocity through the ether at 362+/-40. Used Coupled shutters, chopped light.

    1986, E. Silvertooth. The earth's velocity through the ether at 378+/-? km/s. Used Rotating mirrors, chopped light.

    2006, M. Consoli et al. The earth's velocity through the ether at 276 +/-71 km/s.Carried out using Analysis of rotating optical resonators.

    Below are the references for those wishing to read their scientific papers. There is also a link at the bottom to a more complete results table.

    1. D. C. Miller, The Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth, Review of Modern Physics, 5, 203-242, (1933)

    2. G. F. Smoot et al., Detection of Anisotropy in the Cosmic Blackbody Radiation, Physical Review Letters, 39, No 14, 898-901, (1977)

    3. R. A. Muller, The Cosmic Background Radiation and the New Aether Drift, Scientific American, 238, 64, (1978)

    4. S. Marinov, Measurement of the Laboratory’s Absolute velocity, General Relativity and Gravitation, 12, 57-66, (1980)

    5. S. Marinov, The interrupted “rotating disc” experiment, J. Phys A: Math. Gen, 16, 1885-1888, (1983)

    6. E. W. Silvertooth, Experimental detection of the ether, Speculations in Science and Technology, 10, No 1, 3-7, (1986)

    7. S. Marinov, Экспериментальные нарушения принципов относительности, эквивалентности и сохранения энергии, Физическая мыслъ Росии, Но 2, 52-57, (1995)

    8. S. Marinov, New Measurement of the Earth’s Absolute Velocity with the Help of the “Coupled Shutters” Experiment (submitted by E. Schneeberger), Progress in Physics, 1, 31-37, (2007).

    9. C. Monstein and J. P. Wesley, Solar System Velocity from Muon Flux Anisotropy, Apeiron, 3, No. 2, 33-37, (1996)

    10. R. T. Chill and Kirsty Kitto, Michelson-Morley Experiments Revisited and the Cosmic Background Radiation Preferred Frame, Apeiron, 10, No 2, 104-1017, (2003)

    11. M. Consoli and E. Constanzo, Motion toward the Great Atractor from an ether-drift experiment, arXiv:astroph/ 0601420 v. 2, (2006) (analysis of 3 Modern laboratory experiments, two in Germany and one in Australia, based on active and cryogenic optical resonators).
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  7. Jan 23, 2009 #6
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    I am tripping out right now because I can't find the article, or the Physics Forums post that discussed it. Can anyone recall what I am talking about? This was an experiment in QM, and had nothing to do with the old aether. Am I losing my mind? Was it a hoax that got deleted?
     
  8. Jan 23, 2009 #7

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    First, a minor irritant: everything below the link to the wikipedia article seems to be a direct copy/paste. If you're going to do this, Suede, it might be a courtesy to readers to clearly indicate what you are merely quoting, if only to distinguish between what you yourself have written.

    Second, there are some interesting, and important, words further down on that wiki page (links omitted, bold added):
    Further, while I have yet to track down the Smoot et al. (1977) paper, it seems this alone suggests the list in wikipedia (which you copy) is rather, um, selective (I think the Smoot paper is an early one on detection of the CMB dipole).

    At the very least, what's needed here is a clear, quantitative description of exactly what 'aether' idea is being considered. I suspect (strongly) that this list is rather like the one you put together on 'redshift quantisation', in that the material is internally inconsistent (i.e. there is no quantitative, self-consistent conclusion you can draw from all this).

    (Along the way, this also illustrates well the dangers of using wikipedia as a source.)

    (more later)

    ETA: I found a copy of the Smoot et al. (1977) paper. As I expected, it's about the CMB dipole. In this respect, it's odd that whoever compiled the wikipedia list didn't also include the hundreds (thousands?) of papers on the CMB dipole! Also, it seems that at least some of the others on the list (not counting those in non-mainstream journals) have been examined and found wanting (e.g. flaws in experimental design).
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  9. Jan 23, 2009 #8
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.



    Yeah, I'm not going to argue specifics on all those individual papers, I'm just pointing out that various people at various times that have attempted to look for the aether have found effects that can be attributed to it.

    Believe them or not, that's up to you.

    And I have no problem with a "new" theory of aether that conforms to special cases of relativistic effects that can be demonstrably proven in a lab. A proper theory must explain all existing observations and be able to effectively predict and explain future findings.

    But I do think some kind of an aether theory is what science will inevitably be led back to because our current notions of warping spacetime still have not been solidified in reality. There is no reason as to why matter should bend space.
     
  10. Jan 23, 2009 #9

    George Jones

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  11. Jan 23, 2009 #10

    marcus

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  12. Jan 24, 2009 #11
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    Yeah that's certainly interesting.

    I think its one more reason for modern science to have another look at the aether IMHO.

    If all the research done on it prior to acceptance of relativistic theory was based on bad analysis, I would think some more modern experiements using higher resolutions and proper analysis techniques are called for.
     
  13. Jan 24, 2009 #12

    wolram

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    Could it not be that the multitude of (fields ) constitute an aether?
     
  14. Jan 24, 2009 #13

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    (bold added)

    I'm not sure what you intended to mean with "relativistic theory", but if you thought that Special Relativity (SR) was part of it, then a re-analysis of 'where's the (a)ether?' experiments would be extremely low on the list of things to check.

    Why?

    Because SR has been shown to be consistent with a vastly larger set of experiments and observations than merely these.

    For example, QED - which incorporates SR - has been tested, by several independent methods and approaches, and its consistency with those results is simply astonishing ... 12 (14?) significant figures, with nothing more than ~2σ off.

    Similar comments apply re General Relativity (GR), except that the precision of current tests is many orders of magnitude lower ... 'only' five or six (say).

    Think of it like this: the classical 'luminiferous aether' isn't so much 'wrong' as irrelevant: its explanatory and predictive powers are a subset of relativity's, and trivial in terms of their scope (when compared with relativity's).
     
  15. Jan 24, 2009 #14

    wolram

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    You guys are just blowing hot air ,we will never have a rigid ruler to measure galactic distances, we will never travel beyond our minuscule solar system, there will never be an Enterprise star ship, i think that is why wormholes are are even considered science, the only way to bypass supper C travel, admit it the science tells us we are isolated and not in contact with the greater picture of the cosmos.
     
  16. Jan 24, 2009 #15
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    It is just a hint from nature.

    First men climbed the trees in order to be closer to stars. Instead, they should start making iron, and go the long path for several millenia to make a first spaceship.

    Now it is time to get off the tree once again, to stop dreaming about the Enterprise and to solve another problem: to get rid of the biological body, to understand what the consiousness is and be able to put it anywhere.

    Sounds fantastic? Well, we have about 7 billion years to solve this problem - until our Sun becomes a red giant. After that 'GAME OVER'.
     
  17. Jan 25, 2009 #16
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    I would say re-investigation of aether theory should be extremely high in priority since GR and SR are not unified and observational findings from space are in constant conflict with predicted results. There is no reason as to why matter should curve space.

    For the cost of 1/1000th of an LHC, a dozen aether experiments could be preformed.

    Since a positive finding of an aether would be so profound and the experimental costs are so cheap, I fail to see any reason why a serious modern investigation should not be conducted.
     
  18. Jan 25, 2009 #17

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    (bold added)

    That's certainly news to me! :surprised

    And likely news to the PF members who are regulars in the S&GR section of PF.

    In any case, we have moved a long way from discussing cosmology; perhaps it's time for this discussion to continue in a (new) thread in the S&GR section?
     
  19. Jan 25, 2009 #18

    ZapperZ

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    You may be ignorant of such "serious modern investigation", but it doesn't mean it hasn't been done!

    See, for example, H. Muller et al. PRL v.99, p.050401 (2007). I don't see you writing any rebuttals to it, or do you only complain about it on internet forums?

    I agree with Nereid. If this going to deteriorate into "Relativity is wrong" thread without any valid justification (that "Miller" argument is SO old and SO have been addressed many times already in this forum), then it no longer belongs here and should only go into the IR forum.

    Zz.
     
  20. Jan 25, 2009 #19

    Nereid

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    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    It could, I suppose.

    But how would that help, in terms of understanding how the universe works?

    For example, could you develop some (in principle) testable hypotheses from such an idea? Specifically, ones that would unambiguously distinguish between this idea and SR/GR? If you can't, then what's the point, scientifically?
     
  21. Jan 25, 2009 #20
    Re: Ether and Big Bang.

    No need to get nasty with me, and I am unfamiliar with your paper.

    Simply pointing out that SR and GR are not unified and their predictive power has deminished to near zero doesn't mean I am declaring Miller's aether based model to be correct. I want the truth. I want serious science done that is tied back to reality at all times. I want laboratory based experiments done confirming everything. I want a theory that can predict all new findings that is consistent with physical reality.

    Aether may or may not be the answer. Einstein seemed to think it was. Einstein declared that space is endowed with physical qualities and in this sense any discussion of GR without an aether is untenable. Einstein knew that in order to tie his theories back to reality, some form of an aether was necessary.

    So if Muller is correct, then we know the models of aether previously concieved are wrong.

    I am of the mind however that there is no way for Einsteinian relativity to be tied back to reality without some form of an aether.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2009
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