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Aether wind experiments

1. experiments before Michelson

After the medieval religious worldview, the modern age saw the emergence of rational thinkers such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Hughes. A little later, they began to investigate the most exciting entity of all, light. The first milestone was Newton's Principia, a book of formidable scientific appearance and very large size. It reveals that the scientist could not decide whether to consider light as a wave or as a stream of particles. Later, the question of the speed of light also arose. Its value first became a scientifically established numerical value from Maxwell's equations, using the two fundamental properties of the aether, the vacuum constants e0 and m0. 

   The question was also raised of whether the speed of light from fixed stars is different since the Earth's orbital speed is sometimes added and sometimes subtracted. For the same reason, there must be a significant aether wind blowing around us, because it is logical that space is filled by an approximately stationary sea of aether. Scientists set about the first difficult task of detecting the asymmetry of the speed of light. Observations and experimental results are becoming more and more accurate, approaching 0 and therefore threatening a logical disaster. 

Experimentation is nowadays even more intense, for some reasons: 

- Relativity believers want to find exact proof since SR still has no experimental proof.  

- The remaining adherents of classical physics and logic want to get a result above 0, although the current state of affairs is a disaster for them.  

- Technology is advancing rapidly, and it is hard for a researcher not to try out his new super-device on the old battlefield.  

- Even second-order experiments often contradict one theory or another, and so far no third way has been found. (I don't think there is one, but I don't think it's necessary.) The old way remains. 

   There are about 100 or so experiments and analyses published in serious journals. But there could be thousands of unpublished experiments - that is, many people are fascinated by this unresolved paradox. I am among the enthusiasts of the latter group with an experiment.

  2. Prominent experimenters up to 1880:

Bradley, Roentgen, Eichenwald, Wilson, Rayleigh, Arago, Fizeau, Hoek, Airy.

2.1 Bradley, 1728

Bradley pointed his telescope at the sky for a long time and discovered that the stars in the night sky move in a small ellipse, i.e. they describe an elliptical orbit every year. The ellipses are the same size, whether the star is distant or very distant. It is a projection of the Earth's orbit onto the sky. The idea for the experiment came from the fact that, when sailing at sea, the flag on the mast will turn in a different direction than expected if the ship is sailing at an appropriate speed oblique to the wind.

My notes: This astronomical observation is an early success, compared to the later centuries of struggles to understand light. Something had happened, something had changed in the instrument. We will see below that it is a white raven among a series of later failures. (Failures, but only compared to preconceptions.)

   The phenomenon itself has been called an astronomical aberration ever since, and contrary to current superficial opinion, it does not support the SR theory, but strongly challenges it.  

2.2 Sir George Stokes, 1852   

The Irish mathematician is best known for his work on the un. The Irish mathematician is best known for his un. Stokes's theorem establishes a relationship between the closed curved integral of a vector and the surface product of its rotation. He spent a long career investigating the behavior of fluids, viscosity, vorticity, etc. But he was most concerned with the behavior and nature of light rays. According to his theory of light, the carrier of light, the aether, is attached to the surface of the earth, while above it gradually separates from the bound layer and moves as aether winds. Unfortunately, he later retracted this idea, which applied dynamical physics.

My comments: Stokes' light hypothesis was analyzed by Lorentz, and then, referring to the work of Arago and Airy, he considered it impossible. But I think it is very possible! This theory is the way out of the aether wind paradox!

Since this is not an experiment with a positive effect, but a theory with a solution, I have highlighted the title line in pink instead of red. By the way, I consider the theory to be of a higher order and more important than the experiments that lay the foundations.   

2.3 Arago and Oevre, 1810   

French physicists used binocular lenses to study the position of stars as the Earth orbited the Sun. It was assumed that the telescope lenses moving in a stationary light meter would catch or refract the light beam (v/c, first kind effect). In a later experiment, Airy also filled the telescope tube with water. No effect was observed.

2.4 Hoek, 1868   

He tried to repeat Arago's experiment in an improved form. He used a ground light source and placed a long tube filled with water in one branch of a rectangular light path. He also observed no change.

My comments:    

Arago (Arezzo) was president of the French Academy and among my 10 favorite physicists. He is an excellent experimenter and a keen scientist. As a private person, he was open, honest, sportsmanlike, friendly, cordial, and even downright nice. Everybody loved him. So he was the complete opposite of the famous Newton. Once, standing on the deck of a sailing ship, he saw a ball lightning bolt rush into the mast and knock it over. He gave a detailed description of the phenomenon, which would be unusual nowadays because Hungarian academics would be obliged to listen to it. "We tactically relegate what might be expected to catch us to the grave of the non-existent!"   

3. M-M type experiments in the early 20th century

Michelson and Morley's experiment of 1887 is a milestone in the chase for the aether wind. The table below is an abridged list of the key players and the experimental results.

3.6 Michelson, Gale, and Pearson, 1923

In an abandoned mine near Chicago, explorers laid two rectangular pipeline systems. The larger of the two was cca. The larger one was 600x300 meters and the smaller one was used as a reference tool. The question was whether a device operated underground could also show the Earth's rotation. Yes, it did! There was a streak shift of 0.230, well within the accuracy predicted by theoretical calculations. This creates a confusing situation for both sides, with no one willing to delve into the theoretical basis beyond the statements made.  

3.16 Kennedy and Thorndike, 1932 

In this experiment, the researchers used an interferometer of different arm lengths in an acute-angled (56 degrees) arrangement. With a light-path difference of 32 cm, the creation of interference fringes was a feat of brilliance. This was achieved in the infrared region of the mercury vapor lamp (l=5461 nm). Unlike Michelson, the instrument was not rotated but fixed to the laboratory table. It was expected that a change of velocity and direction along the earth's orbit would cause an interference pattern change. But even the rotation of the earth's surface could show up in the result. 

They operated the fixed interferometer for many months. Meanwhile, a special technique was used to keep the temperature of the instrument within 0.001 degrees Celsius. Photographs of the strips were taken every 2 hours. When the results were evaluated, the position of the strips was unchanged within a 0.1% error margin. 


This experiment argues not only against the existence of aether winds but also against the shrinkage hypothesis (Lorentz's attempt to find a way out). However, later analyses showed that the length of the arms was too small (220 mm and 61 mm), and therefore the apparatus was, in my opinion, inadequate to detect the effects in question (this is easy to figure out without "analysis"). It is unfortunate that many scientists considered and still consider this to be an authoritative, even decisive experiment. 

4. Modern experiments 


4.1 Jaseva, Javan, 1964   

On a rotating table, 2 high-stability infrared masers lay in a perpendicular position. The researchers allowed an anisotropy of up to 30 m/s, deduced from the difference in frequency.  

4.2 Shamir and Fox, 1969   

A replicated M-M type experiment with light beams passing through plexiglass (n=1.49). The sensitivity of the laser-based optics was ~0.00003. The researchers reported null results, allowing that the max deviation could be véter=6.64 m/s.  

4.3 Hafele and Keating, 1971    

The young researchers flew an atomic clock around the Earth using commercial flights. When they avoided the Earth in an easterly direction, the clock was 59 nanoseconds late, while heading west, the clock hurry a 273 ns. This is therefore a positive effect, which Hafele explained by the Earth's rotation and the SR and GR theories. Subsequent H-K-type experiments only increased the accuracy, thus confirming the approximate figures.


The measurement results are not fictitious, as many would like to make them appear. The clock was indeed stopped by something, and in fact, two physical effects were operating simultaneously. 

   The effect of the speed was to increase the mass of the cesium atoms and therefore to reduce the clock signal, the frequency of the signal emitted during the spin reversal. Heading east, the speed of the plane and the speed of the ground surface added together, while heading west, it subtracted. The measured asymmetry proves that the surrounding medium - the aether - is stationary, i.e. not rotating with the Earth. From the Earth, the aether wind is therefore blowing upwards. Nota bene, it is up there, in the aether wind, that the M-M experiment must be conducted! This means that the Michelson Morley experiment is completely misinterpreted by the original experimenters, and by the present-day experimenters.

   The experimental instrument, laid down on the surface of the Earth and rotated back and forth, should not, and indeed must not, show any change or streak shift, since the experimenters are experimenting in a stationary ether layer.

   The phenomenon is somewhat masked by the acceleration of the clock due to altitude because the energy of gravity increases with distance from the Earth, and with it the energy of the atoms. The two effects are even more pronounced in the GPS satellite clock. The satellite "flies" higher and faster, so it shows a time difference of 3 orders of magnitude per day.

   4.4 Brillet and Hall, 1979   

Improved laser test for space anisotropy. One of the lowest limiting experiments. The difference frequencies of two infrared He-Ne (~1015 Hz) lasers were measured while one was standing and the other lying on a rotating table. The researchers detected a difference frequency of 17 Hz, but this was considered to be internal noise in the laboratory. Thus, they found the anisotropy of the vacuum to be less than 0.000001 m/s. 


 Without a figure, it is difficult to decide whether the researchers hoped to produce a different frequency from the light path between the two lasers or the change inside the circulating laser. In the second case, there are two other possibilities. If the tube of the laser is perpendicular to the direction of motion, a so-called perpendicular Doppler effect can occur. The problem with this is that half of the physicists believe in the phenomenon, while the other half do not. If, on the other hand, the laser tube is in the direction of motion, then again there are only two cases. Assuming that the circumferential velocity has not changed the frequency of the outgoing light, it will then change due to the Doppler effect of the 45-degree deflecting mirror in front of it. On the other hand, the speed would decrease the wavelength of the standing wave in the tube and increase its frequency. Just enough to compensate for the Doppler effect on the mirror. A confounding factor is that it is difficult to change the number of standing waves in a gas laser because their ends tend to bounce off the surface of the internal mirrors. 

   Despite the uncertainties raised, I decided not to read the original paper (Phys.Rew.Let. page 4). I prefer to believe the researchers, as their result fits in with the general trend.  

4.5 Frisher et al, 1990   

"Remote Lasers" The experimenters placed 2 infrared lasers on the ground and connected them with a 21 km optical cable. The phase difference of the incoming waves was monitored. The upper limit of possible anisotropy was set at 100 m/s.   My comments:  Neither the theoretical basis of the experiment nor the concrete design of the experiment is clear from the verbose summary of the review article. Would one have expected the light waves from the Western laser to be delayed, or even diminished, by the aether winds blowing from the east? Unfortunately, any delay would only be momentary and would occur at the moment the coiled cable was uncoiled. Every second thereafter, exactly as many waves are received as are emitted by the source laser. Here lasers are supposed to act as atomic clocks, whereas they are just high-stability wave sources.

   The atomic clocks would display the time difference of the light pulses on the back and forth path, thousands of wavenumber differences (f=~1015 Hz, n=1.5). Unfortunately, this device can only detect a maximum of 1/4 wave phase difference, and the other 1000 are lost. The published aether speed of 100 m/s as an upper limit is unfounded and is a delayed experimental result anyway.

4.6 Hils and Hall, 1990   

This is similar to the Brillet and Hall experiment. However, both lasers are fixed to the ground for better stability. No frequency deviation was observed at the 2*10-13 sensitivity level. (Apparently, the experiment was continued for 1 year.)

   In my professional opinion, the Brillet and Hall experiment is equivalent to the Michelson-Morley experiment. And the Hils and Hall experiments are roughly equivalent to the Kennedy and Thorndike experiment. 


4.7 Wolf and Petit, 1997   

"Test of SR using the GPS system." The results of the test show that the anisotropy is less than 5*10-9, i.e. 0.6 m/s.    Observations:  It is an unfounded, even naive idea to assume that the orbital plane of satellites rotates with the Earth. It naturally maintains a constant position relative to the Universe. If it did rotate, it would in no way be a consequence of special relativity. But it doesn't! So the test proves classical mechanics against SR and GR.    

  Nowadays, SR is still the fashionable stove-pole from which experimental physicists start their hypotheses and explanations. The problem is that they make faces as if they understand relativity. It is a fashionable attitude, and an expected joining of the camp of the savvy: "If others say they 'get it (?), I'll do the same. Besides, the SR reference will increase the authority of my work." Let's face it, SR is a seemingly simple but abstract theory that negates physical reality and is hyper-complicated. It's not enough to be a physicist on this subject, you have to be a specialist. If it were up to me, I would ban reference to it by experimental physicists.

  4.8 Chen, Beijing, 1997   

This is a replication of the Brillet-Hall experiment with even greater precision. Here, the researchers found that the anisotropy of the speed of light was maxed at 10-18.  

4.9 Mueller et al, 2003   

Modern Michelson-Morley experiment with cryogenic optical resonators. The anisotropy was less than 10-15.  

4.10 Herrmann et al, 2005  

 This is also a test for the isotropy of the speed of light. The experimental device was a constantly rotating optical resonator. The limit is 10-16.  

4.11 C.W. Chou et al, 2010   

The "American" experimental physicist developed an extremely sensitive and extra-stable energy measuring instrument. It consists of two metal boxes, each containing an exciting aluminum-ion radiation source (~1015Hz, near-ultraviolet range.) One box contains the electronics for the difference frequency display and is connected to the other box by a 70 m optical cable. If the energy level of one of the boxes changes, the frequency emitted by the aluminum ions inside it changes. It can detect heights as low as 0.5 m and speeds as high as 3.2 m/s, with a difference signal of 0.05 Hz.   

Eh=mgh=1*10*0,5=5J, Em=mv2/2=1*3,22/2=5J. This stylized calculation is for a mass of 1 kg, but instead, think of the mass of an aluminum atom. 


The experiments also show that the movement of the aether could not be detected, i.e. the aether wind does not blow at ground level! As things stand at the moment, it is very close to 0, so this is no longer of any practical significance. Further refinement of the experiments is now unnecessary because it is likely that the speed of the aether wind at the ground surface is not only practical but also theoretically 0. 

     However, there are a few experiments (H-K, GPS) among those listed which show that the aether wind does blow at high altitudes. Delusions aside, we must say that the aether does exist! The aether that surrounds the Earth and fills the Universe is not static but moves locally. Aether is at a distance from the Earth, while only partially following the Earth's rotation. At the Earth's surface, however, the aether is trapped on the rotating ground. Meanwhile, inside the Earth, it rotates absolutely with the Earth. Air is much rarer and therefore only partially influences the motion of the aether. Let's pay tribute to Stokes, who described the behavior of the aether in this way centuries ago.      

The transition between the aether fluid deposited on the rotating Earth and the stationary aether sea is continuous. The situation is similar to a river, where water hardly flows at all at the bottom and the banks, due to friction, and some layers of water molecules do not flow at all, they remain stationary. If a fast boat glides along the surface of the river, even a few molecules of water are stuck to the side of the boat and move completely with it. Between the moving and the deposited layer of water, the river flows at a constant (though not linear) speed. There is no reason to assume that this is not the case for the aether.      

As I have already mentioned, I am among the many unannotated and unpublished experimenters with an experiment. A few decades ago I made an instrument that was also highly sensitive, but fortunate circumstances contributed to a positive effect. I detected a moving aether at ground level, which will provide a new direction for further aether wind experiments.   

Posted: month of December 2014 

Edited: 18 04 2019   

Note: In some of my previous papers some details, unfortunately, contradict the aether wind situation pictured above. As soon as I have time, I intend to correct these parts.                                                   Tt

Tom Tushey 

Mechanical engineer 

Hobby physicist 

Scientific Writer