Friday, April 13, 2012

Evidence against entraining the aether

Joseph Levy of France has just posted Is the aether entrained by the motion of celestial bodies? What do the experiments tell us?. He revisits the issue of whether the Michelson–Morley experiment rules out luminiferous aether drift from the motion of the Earth.
Since the publication of Einstein’s basic article “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies” in 1905, the aether has been excluded from the area of physics, being regarded as inexistent or at least inactive. Such an attitude signified that the laws of physics could be formulated in the same way, that the aether exists or not,...

This approach appeared quite revolutionary in 1905, since it called into question the ideas developed by a number of classical physicists such as Hooke, Lavoisier, Young, Huygens, Laplace, Fresnel, and Lorentz among others.
I do not agree with this. I say that Einstein did not refute Lorentz, and what Lorentz meant by the aether was what he said in 1895:
It is not my intention to ... express assumptions about the nature of the aether.
Levy does explain how the aether concept (if not the name) is universally accepted today:
In fact, despite its properties that seem so different from ordinary matter, a number of arguments speak in favour of a substratum [9] and these arguments have multiplied in the early twentieth century with the development of quantum mechanics. It is difficult, indeed, to accept that a “vacuum”, endowed with physical properties such as permittivity and permeability may be empty. The ability of such an empty vacuum to transmit electromagnetic waves is also doubtful.

Quantum mechanics, on its part, regards the vacuum as an ocean of pairs of fluctuating virtual particles-antiparticles of very small life-time, a ppearing and disappearing spontaneously, which can be interpreted as a gushing of the aether, although the aether is not officially recognized by quantum mechanics. The interaction of the electrons and the vacuum, in particular, is regarded as the cause of the shifting of the alpha ray of the hydrogen atom spectrum, referred to as lamb shift [10]. The fluctuations of the vacuum are also assumed to expl ain the Casimir effect [11], and the Davies Fulling, Unruh, effect [12].

Einstein himself around 1916 changed his mind as regards the hypothesis of the aether. ...

A proof of the undeniable existence of the aether was given in ref [14]. Thus, the question to be answered today is not to verify its existence, but rather to specify its nature and its properties, and, in the first place, to determine if it is entrained (or not) by the translational motion of celestial bodies due to gravitation.
You will be reassured to learn that the conclusions of Lorentz and Poincare about relativity in 1900 are still good today, and evidence is against the aether drag hypothesis.

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of different thoughts about aether but they are all from non-scientists. Mine is the "Physics of Subspace Geometry" search for it on line or search for subspaceuniverse. Aether can unify physics by providing a better description of energy than what is provided now. If we knew what energy was then we could appreciate why there are four known forces in the universe.