What on ether is the matter?

  1. I've been interested for a while in the nature of space-time. It's been a long time since any body talked seriously about the "ether". The concept seems to have been thrown away into the darkest corners of physics after the famous Michelson-Morely expermient.

    However it seems to me like space (or ether,) is everything: light, matter,forces of nature, even dark energy could just be different manifestations of space. I mean, wouldn't physics be so much more elegant if this were true! (Although the foundations of string theory would have to be revisited!)

    What if matter is space? and where there's matter, there's no space. This seems sort of obvious given that according to theory virtual particles are constantly being created and destroyed in vacuum, or "nothingness". But it's not nothing! It's space, changing its character to matter, and losing it again, going back to being "just" space.

    Is it just my ignorance, or there's been very little research on the nature and properties of space itself?

    P.S.
    Richard Wilson has a nice and brief introduction into "The Ether Dispute"...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 14,660
    Science Advisor
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    well it is a failed model - it introduces more problems than it solves.

    That's pretty much what the various guage and string theories are trying to do.

    speculation
    Take care about confusing models of reality with reality.

    Since you brought it up - it's just your ignorance. There is a great deal of research into the nature of space itself.
    I must respectfully disagree - this is a rambling collection musings and speculation. Nothing useful here. Even the title is misleading: there is no "dispute". Wikipedia has a better intro.

    start with:
    http://comp.uark.edu/~davewall/Molly/Aether Theory.htm
    ... then go to wikipedia.
    For more substance, perhaps "The Nature of Space and Time" (Hawking and Penrose 1996)
    http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Space-Time-Stephen-Hawking/dp/0691050848
    If you are more interested in the philosophy, how about
    "Substance Relations and Arguments about the Nature of Space Time (Teller - TPR VolC #3 July 1991)
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2185065

    Then you should be well primed for guage theories, string theory and so on.
    There is a reason why good books on the nature of space-time are so weighty.

    Note: we need to be careful about how this gets discussed - from the rules:
    Discussion of conspiracy theories and certain perennial pseudoscience topics that have been "debunked" beyond any reasonable doubt are not allowed anywhere on the site.
    afaict: Wilson's book is pseudoscience.
    Classical aether theory has been "debunked" beyond any reasonable doubt.
    The likes of Einstein and Dirac used the word as a metaphor - which can confuse people.
    There are a lot of "crank" aetheric theories around to mislead the unwary.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2011
  4. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Nice reply by Simon. Thread locked.
     
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