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Homework Help: Michelson Morley experiment

  1. May 15, 2014 #1
    I'm a little confused about this.

    I know how to derive the expression t≈lv2/c3 for the time difference between the arrival of the two beams due to the presence of an ether, with the earth moving at speed v through the ether, and l the distance between the beam splitter and each mirror. This can be done so by working in the ether frame or the interferometer frame.

    Now, ultimately I want to find the expected phase shift if the ether were to exist. To do so I need a path difference from this time difference. My book says it is given by ct, i.e s≈lv2c2. I understand this in the ether frame, as the light travels at speed c. But in the interferometer frame, it doesn't have this speed, and so I don't understand whats going on there. I'm very confused. From this path difference, it's easy to get the phase difference.

    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2014 #2


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    Can't you assume the difference in reference frame speeds is small, so the difference in computed path differences is a second-order small quantity?
  4. May 16, 2014 #3
    That would make sense!
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