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Landmarks in the History of Science » Physics-Astronomy » Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth, 1933 [Michelson-Morley 'Experiment']

Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth, 1933 [Michelson-Morley 'Experiment']

Autor: Dayton Miller
Cod: 8087
In stoc: Da

Detalii produs

Dayton Miller (1866-1941) was a professor of astronomy at Case School in Cleveland, and as a hobby, a collector of flutes; but the great challenge of his life was to prove the existence of the ether by means of experimental data.

''Michelson and Morley performed the historic experiment in the northwest room of the basement of the Main Building of Adelbert College in Cleveland in 1887; their entire series of observations was of six hours' duration, one hour at noon on each day of July 8, 9 and 11, and one hour in the evening of July 8, 9 and 12 and consisted of thirty-six 'turns' of the interferometer, readings been made at each of sixteen equidistant points in each turn. The method of observation was arranged to detect the preconceived effect of the motion of the earth toward a known point in space with a given velocity, and hence no general series of observation was made. The brief series of observations was sufficient to show clearly that the effect did not have the anticipated magnitude. However, and this fact must emphasized, the indicated effect was not zero, the sensitivity of the apparatus was such that the conclusion, published in 1887, stated that the observed relative motion of the earth and ether did not exceed one-fourth of the earth's orbital velocity. This is quite different from a null effect now so frequently imputed to this experiment by writers on Relativity.''

      Dayton Miller, Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth (1933), p. 206
''My opinion about Miller's experiments is the following. ... Should the positive result be confirmed, then the special theory of relativity and with it the general theory of relativity, in its current form, would be invalid. Experimentum summus judex.''

       Albert Einstein, letter to Edwin Slosson, 8 July 1925 (from copy in Hebrew University Archive, Jerusalem)

''The history of science records the 1887 ether-drift experiment of Albert Michelson and Edward Morley as a pivotal turning point, where the energetic ether of space was discarded by mainstream physics. Thereafter, the postulate of 'empty space' was embraced, along with related concepts which demanded constancy in light-speed, such as Albert Einstein's relativity theory. The now famous Michelson-Morley experiment is widely cited, in nearly every physics textbook, for its claimed 'null' or 'negative' results. Less known, however, is the far more significant and detailed work of Dayton Miller.


Dayton Miller's 1933 paper in Reviews of Modern Physics details the positive results from over 20 years of experimental research into the question of ether-drift, and remains the most definitive body of work on the subject of light-beam interferometry. Other positive ether-detection experiments have been undertaken, such as the work of Sagnac (1913) and Michelson and Gale (1925), documenting the existence in light-speed variations (c+v > c-v), but these were not adequately constructed for detection of a larger cosmological ether-drift, of the Earth and Solar System moving through the background of space. Dayton Miller's work on ether-drift was so constructed, however, and yielded consistently positive results.

Miller's work, which ran from 1906 through the mid-1930s, most strongly supports the idea of an ether-drift, of the Earth moving through a cosmological medium, with calculations made of the actual direction and magnitude of drift. By 1933, Miller concluded that the Earth was drifting at a speed of 208 km/sec. towards an apex in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere, towards Dorado, the swordfish, right ascension 4 hrs 54 min., declination of -70° 33', in the middle of the Great Magellanic Cloud and 7° from the southern pole of the ecliptic. (Miller 1933, p. 234) This is based upon a measured displacement of around 10 km/sec. at the interferometer, and assuming the Earth was pushing through a stationary, but Earth-entrained ether in that particular direction, which lowered the velocity of the ether from around 200 to 10 km/sec. at the Earth's surface. Today, however, Miller's work is hardly known or mentioned, as is the case with nearly all the experiments which produced positive results for an ether in space. Modern physics today points instead to the much earlier and less significant 1887 work of Michelson-Morley, as having 'proved the ether did not exist'...

While he was alive, Miller's work could not be fundamentally undermined by the critics. However, towards the end of his life, he was subject to isolation as his ether-measurements were simply ignored by the larger world of physics, then captivated by Einstein's relativity theory.

After his death in 1941, Miller's work was finally 'put to rest', in the publication of a critical 1955 paper in Reviews of Modern Physics by Robert S. Shankland, S.W. McCuskey, F. C. Leone and G. Kuerti (hereafter referred to as the 'Shankland team' or 'Shankland' paper), which purported to make a fair and comprehensive review Miller's data, finding substantial flaws...

Here, I will compare the Shankland team's 1955 criticisms to what is actually contained in Miller's published works, notably his 1933 paper which summarized his work on the subject. It is my contention, the Shankland paper, published 14 years after Miller's death, attempted to resurrect speculative criticisms which had previously been raised and rebutted when Miller was alive, and not given serious credibility except among anti-ether fundamentalists. The Shankland paper also misrepresented Miller's data in several ways, and furthermore misrepresented itself as a definitive rebuttal, which it most certainly was not. In order to properly address this major issue of science history, I will also recount the central facts of Miller's work...

[As a curiosity, we notice that Shankland’s hobby was the collecting of steel animal traps...]

I ask the reader to imagine that Michelson-Morley's 1887 experiment, which ran over only 6 hours on four days, had resulted in a claim that 'the ether has been detected', and that Dayton Miller had undertook his years of work with 200,000 observations showing 'the ether cannot be detected'. It does not take much consideration to conclude that — in such a fictional case — Miller would today be cited in every physics textbook as having 'proved the ether did not exist', and nobody would refer to Michelson-Morley. The fact that the present-day situation is totally opposite of my example is a testament to the intensely political nature of modern science, and how major theories often develop into belief-systems, which demand the automatic suppression of any new finding which might undermine the faith and 'popular wisdom' of politically-dominant groups of academics.''

Dayton Miller's Ether-Drift Experiments: A Fresh Look by James DeMeo (2002)
See online this excellent article:

Dayton Miller, Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth inReviews of Modern Physics, Number 3, July, 1933; pp. 203-242; original covers, the spine is sunned; fine condition.

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