THE DIRECT RESULTS OF THE MICHELSON-MORLEY
AND WHAT DO THEY REALLY PROVE
1. Our Perceptions and Concepts of Matter and Space. With our bare senses we are able to perceive sufficiently large bodies of atomic matter only. These bodies consist of discrete molecules, atoms, ions, separated by certain distances from one another. Each atom consists of a positively charged nucleus and a certain number of negative electrons that makes the atom electrically neutral.
We know since 1911, thanks to Sir Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), that the radius of the nucleus is ~50,000 times smaller than the radius of the atom or ion. Nevertheless, the mass of the nucleus constitutes the mass of the whole atom, compared to which the masses and volumes of the atomic electrons are negligible. Hence, a quadrillionth only of the volumes of atoms and of atomic bodies is occupied by the nuclei and electrons, of which they consist. The rest, i.e., almost all the volume of atoms and of atomic bodies is just space.
When dealing with subatomic processes, particularly with the emission of light by atomic bodies, we should therefore think of atomic bodies as of rare networks of nuclei, very far apart from one another. For example, if we represent the nucleus as a node of a net, made of 0.1 mm thin nylon threads, then the distances between nearest threads or nodes should be ~5 meters. Nevertheless, we perceive atomic bodies, think of them, and treat them (also in our mathematics, dynamics, etc.) as if they were more or less dense, smooth, and continuous.
With our bare senses we do not perceive particles of nuclear matter, not the nuclei and electrons, of which atoms consist. Space, containing nuclear particles, is therefore perceived empty, even at particle concentrations that may cause illness and death. We also do not perceive single atoms, ions, and molecules, nor very small dust particles, even those containing millions of atoms.
We usually consider space per se a volume or room completely empty of matter. Space, containing those directly unperceivable particles, is thus empty to our senses. Moreover, we do not pay attention to normal clean air, and a room or space with nothing but air that is not windy, dirty, too hot or too cold, is perceived and considered empty.
We think that empty space cannot resist the motion of bodies in it. As long as we can move in normal air without feeling its resistance, we consider the surrounding space empty. When we detect resistance, we blame the wind or air for it but are sure that space, emptied of everything and air, i.e., “the ideal vacuum space”, would not resist motion.
2. The Physically Unfeasible Empty Space. Because we perceive matter and think of it as being continuous, we are sure that any material medium in space must be continuous, too. The medium would thus resist motion and reduce velocities of moving bodies. Moreover, motion of those “dense and continuous” bodies, planets, earth, would “bulldoze” the material medium, causing winds in it. And if the motion causes no winds, then this is to us a “sure proof” that space is empty.
However, we know since 1911, that atomic bodies are rare networks of nuclei. If we represent the nucleus as a node of a net, made of 0.1 mm thin nylon threads, then the distances between nearest threads or nodes should be ~5 meters. Such a network could move through air and water without causing winds or currents (but, maybe, some wavelets around the nodes). Hence “no winds” does not mean that space is empty, but that the material medium in space (if any) is not continuous.
The absolute emptiness of space was the basic assumption of the theories derived by Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), concerning motion, inertia, gravitation, and light. The belief in the absolute emptiness of space ruled in science for 140 years, until it was replaced by the belief that space is filled by an imaginary massless "ether". The ether concept was denied by Michelson and Morley in 1887, and in 1905 Einstein restored the belief in absolutely empty space.
However, absolutely empty space is unfeasible, it doesn’t exist in nature. The best vacuum apparatus reduces normal air pressure to a quadrillionth part, close to what it is in space well above the atmosphere, where our satellites are moving unresistedly for many long years. But even in this vacuum, there still are 30 molecules per tiny cubic millimeter. Populations of nuclear particles remain in this best achievable vacuum most unaltered.
Farther in "outer" space, the number of molecules or atoms is smaller, but is never zero. The populations of nuclear particles, enriched by nuclear or cosmic dust, are much more significant there than in our normal air. Therefore, "absolutely empty space" is a fiction that fits our perceptions, beliefs, and calculative needs of mathematical theories. It results from an exaggerated mathematical and philosophical extrapolation of the possibility to reduce the concentration of matter in space.
3. Light Rays; Are they Waves or Streams of Corpuscles? Newton’s theories of motion, inertia and gravitation did not allow the presence in space of anything that might disturb the “universal applicability” of his mathematical principles; not of meteors, not of a light-carrying medium. He thus presented light as streams or beams of massless corpuscles, emitted by the light source, and propagating through absolutely empty space.
By Newton the physicist, the mass of a body is the quantity of matter in it. Thus to the physicist, massless means zero matter. Hence anything massless is necessarily immaterial or fictitious, including the fiction of light corpuscles (and of Einstein’s “zero restmass” photons). But this does not bother the mathematician, because all strictly and beautifully defined objects of his science are fictitious; they cannot exist in nature, only in the imagination of appropriately trained people (and, maybe, some circus animals).
In corpuscular theories, the refraction of light into water, glass, and other "optically denser" materials can be explained only by assuming that the velocity of light in these materials is higher than in space. At those times, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) presented the wave theory of light, by which the velocity of light in optically denser materials is lower. This was proven right a few decades later, but the wrong corpuscular theory reigned in science for 140 years.
By 1825, it was finally and irreversibly proven that light represents wave processes. One would then immediately ask "waves of what?", or "in what", because waves need an elastic carrier in which to form and propagate. This carrier of light-waves was the Huygens ether.
4. The Unfeasible but Useful Light-Carrying Ether. The Huygens ether was supposed to be massless, to continuously fill up space, and to penetrate atomic bodies. Light-waves, also infrared and ultraviolet radiation, were then considered to be waves in and of this fictitious ether.
Empty space would be physically unable to carry light, particularly the tremendous amounts of radiation energy reaching us from the sun. But the Huygens ether would also be unable to do it. To carry the waves of just the visible light, the ether had to be both highly elastic, and as stiff as steel. On the other hand, in order not to resist the motion of bodies in space, the ether had to be massless. Hence, such an ether was physically unfeasible; it could exist only in our imagination, not in nature.
Though the ether was physically unfeasible, it still was an "as if" or quasi physical model of radiation- and energy-carrying space, providing explanations to most of then known facts. At those times, the ability to explain phenomena was the criterion to distinguish a science from a non-science, so that the ether concept was very important in 19th century physics and fruitful, too.
5. Faraday’s Dielectric “No Winds” Ether. In the 1830-s, Michael Faraday (1791-1867) introduced a dielectric model of the ether. Faraday’s ether consisted of some unidentified, discrete, positively and negatively charged particles, elastically bound to one another by electro-magnetic forces. Bodies could move through Faraday’s dielectric ether by pushing apart its elastically bound discrete particles (as in laminar motion in fluids), without tearing the particles off bonds, thus without making winds in the ether.Faraday’s ether was the carrier of not only light waves but of electric and magnetic forces and energies, or electro-magnetic (EM) fields, which he introduced. Displacements of the bound ether particles, when pushed apart by a moving body, would cause them to vibrate. Vibrations of ether particles resulted in Faraday’s EM induction currents in conducting wires, also in “displacement currents” and EM waves in the ether.
Faraday’s dielectric “no winds” ether was not accepted by the scientific community, which believed that motion of bodies in any material medium must cause winds in it. And, enchanted by the mathematics of velocity addition, the scientific community believed also that“the velocity of a moving emitter of light must add to the velocity of the emitted light”.
6. On Waves and Winds. By their physical definition, waves transfer vibrational energy between particles of material media without tearing the particles off their equilibrium positions there. Hence, unlike winds or currents, that represent translational motions of particles or layers of particles in the media, waves do not transfer matter, they transfer vibrational energy only. The velocity of this transfer depends on the elastic energy density in the medium divided by the mass density in it. As long as winds or currents inside the medium cannot change the ratio of the two densities, they cannot change the velocity of the wave motion. They may disturb the wave motion but cannot add their velocity (or any velocity) to the velocity of a wave motion, established inside a material medium.
Our problem is that we do not see waves in the air or in the water, so that what we consider as waves is what we see on the surface of water. Here, due to friction with the surface, winds in the air easily sweep the surface with the surface waves, forcing huge layers of water to move with the velocity of the wind. Sometimes this creates hills or mountains of moving water, that are still named “waves”, though they relate to the physical concept of a wave as a tree relates to a seed.
Faraday, and also C.J.Doppler (1803-1853), did work on waves and knew that a moving vehicle creates some winds in the air. However people who stay a fifty meters from a highway or railroad tracks are reached by the sounds emitted by each vehicle on nearing, on passing by, and on moving away, with all the same velocity, independent of the distance from the vehicle and of the aim of the vehicle's motion. Hence, even in a carrier of waves as our air, in which the constituing particles are not bound to one another, so that winds are easily made, the velocity of winds is not added to the velocity of waves that are established in their carrier, the air.
Changing with the distance from the emitter is the intensity of the sounds. Changing with the aim of the emitter’s motion is the frequency of the sound or the pitch. When the vehicle is nearing, the pitch is higher than on passing by, at which moments the pitch is normal, as emitted by the vehicle’s whistle, horn, etc. When the vehicle moves away, the pitch is lower than the emitted or normal pitch.
These facts were known to many scientists, but only Doppler was not affraid to draw a physical analogy with light waves, which led him to the discovery of the Doppler Effect in 1842 (see Article 2 in our website). The Doppler Effect disagreed with the “accepted scientific knowledge” of “ether winds” and of the addition of their velocity to the wave velocity. Doppler's work was published, because of the then continuing golden era of freedom of publication in science, but it was bitterly opposed by scientists during two decades. Doppler died in 1853, unappreciated for his discovery. The Doppler Effect was proven right in 1868. This also substantiated the Faraday dielectric “no winds” ether.
7. Faraday’s Dielectric Ether and the Maxwell Equations. Faraday’s EM forces and fields, carried by his “no winds” dielectric ether, inspired young J.C.Maxwell (1831-1879) to express mathematically Faraday’s ideas and experimental results. In his first publication (1855), Maxwell derived the differential equation for Faraday’s lines of force in EM fields. In 1862, he derived the equations for the displacement currents, and in 1865 he presented light as EM waves in their known frequency range.
Maxwell predicted that there should be EM waves in other frequency ranges, and that all EM waves should propagate in the dielectric ether with one and the same velocity c, that he succeeded to calculate from basic principles. We should remember that the Maxwell equations, basic to the ‘new physics’ with its empty space ideology, were derived in a mathematical treatment of Faraday’s dielectric ether and contain Faraday’s ideas in a mathematically shadowed form.
The crucial prove of the Faraday-Maxwell dielectric “no winds” ether was the 1887 experimental discovery of EM radio waves (“Hertzian waves”) by Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894), 20 years after Faraday’s death, about 22 years after Maxwell’s prediction, and 8 years after his death. In 1890, Hertz expressed Faraday’s law of EM induction as a differential equation that was added to the Maxwell Equations.
8. The Physical
Results of the Michelson-Morley Experiments.
In 1887, A.A.Michelson (1852-1931) and E.W.Morley (1838-1923)
published the results of their very precise measurements of the speed of light emitted by earthly
sources in different directions relative to the direction of earth’s motion around the sun
: in the direction of earth's motion, in a direction opposite to earth’s
motion, and in directions perpendicular to earth’s motion. The measurements
were repeated at various seasons, during several years, at increasing accuracy, and showed that
The speed of light is undoubtedly
one and the same in all directions.
This is the one and only direct result of their measurements. We may generalize this direct result to say that
The velocity of light, emitted in our space by an atomic body,
is independent of the velocity of the emitting body.
The secondary result follows from the direct result, and tells them, who expected an addition of the velocity of an atomic body to the propagation velocity of waves in their medium outside the atomic body, that
The velocity of an atomic emitter of light
does not add to the propagation velocity of light in space.
In other words, light (and EM radiation in general) once emitted by an atomic emitter, propagates in the carrier of EM fields with a velocity that is determined by the local physical conditions in the field, and is independent of the velocity of the emitter.
The tertiary result tells them, who expected that the motion of atomic bodies in the medium, carrying the light-waves, must push, pull, bulldoze, or otherwise cause winds in it, that
Motion of atomic bodies in the light-carrying medium
does not make winds in it.
All these results correspond to Faraday’s dielectric “no winds” model of the ether and can be physically explained by our electron positron lattice (epola) model of space. Unfortunately, Faraday’s model was not accepted by mathematicians in physics. By 1887, twenty years after Faraday’s deadth and 8 years after the death of Maxwell who followed and developed his ideas, expressing them mathematically, some mathematicians started to accept the Maxwell Equations, but sterilized them of any shred of Faraday’s physics.
Michelson and Morley might have not known of Faraday’s model, or did not want to know. There was also nobody around to tell them about it, even if they would be willing to listen, though at the same time, Hertz in Berlin provided the strongest experimental proof of the Faraday-Maxwell ether. They could not know in 1887 (nor did Einstein in 1905) what became known from the Rutherford Experiments in 1911, that each atomic body, i.e., every piece of their apparatus, earth, etc., is a rare network of atomic nuclei and electrons, far apart from one another. From the absence of any difference in the velocity of light in the different directions, they derived that the moving Earth is not pushing, pulling, or making winds in the ether. Hence they decided that there is no ether.
But even for them at those times, the logically and physically right conclusion would be that the carrier of light, if any, cannot be continuous. Unfortunately, people are generally unable to imagine a non-continuous (discrete) material, with its particles far apart from one another. It was thus acepted that there is no ether, and no material carrier of light-waves whatsoever. This misinterpretation of the experimental results made physics unable to explain itself, turning it into a science in distress.
If you are interested to find out what the Epola model of space does and can do for the understanding of observed physical phenomena, I may recommend a close encounter with my book Invitation to the Natural Physics of Matter, Space, and Radiation, World Scientific Publishing Co, 1994, (292 pages, ISBN 981-02-1649-1, can be ordered from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble).
derivations can be found in my Paperback, The
Electron-Positron Lattice Space, Cause of Relativity and Quantum Effects
, Physics Section 5, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1990 (158 pages).
The Paperback, as well as my popular Booklet, The Story
of Matter and Space, 1999 (70 pages) can be ordered from Robi Guttman -
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