Repeat the Michelson-Morley Experiment in Interplanetary Space
Many members of the CNPS are supporters of the aether paradigm. This is the concept that there is a physical substance that fills the universe that is the medium for transmitting electromagnetic radiation (e.g. light) and (for some) the force of gravity.
There are many different proposed models of the aether but they usually fall into 2 distinct categories:
- The universal aether concept: The aether forms a fixed absolute reference frame. Everything moves through it and relative to it – including the Earth.
- The local aether concept (also called entrained aether): The aether near astronomical bodies such as planets is bound to them and is carried with them in their orbits around the Sun. It can be visualized as a halo similar to the Earth’s atmosphere although not composed of molecules or atoms. It could extend as far as 1,000,000 km from the Earth’s surface. The Sun has its own halo of aether that could extend out to the edge of the solar system where it meets the aether entrained with the Milky Way galaxy. The planets orbit within the Sun’s aether halo along with the aether halos bound to them.
The universal aether concept was the mainstream model of the late 19th century. It was assumed that the aether was stationary with respect to the Sun and that the aether flowed through matter and the Earth as “the wind flows through trees”. It was thought that the Earth’s orbital motion (at ~30 km/sec) created a “wind” at the Earth’s surface that could be detected by an instrument called an interferometer.
The experiment to detect the Earth’s motion in the aether is called the Michelson-Morley experiment. It was originally performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley. The original experiment and numerous repetitions by others have not produced clear positive results.
When Albert Michelson reported the negative results he said it could simply mean that the Earth carries aether with it so there is no aether wind at the Earth’s surface. He also hypothesized that the Earth might rotate within its aether halo as it spins on its axis at ~.35 km/sec (at 41 degrees latitude). The Michelson-Gale experiment was conducted to test this hypothesis in 1925 with positive results.
In recent years, there have been many experiments that are consistent with the hypothesis that the Earth rotates within an entrained aether. These include the one-way Sagnac effect that is programmed into GPS receivers. For details, I highly recommend “A local-ether model of propagation of electromagnetic wave,” by Ching-Chuan Su.
However, these phenomena, including Michelson-Gale, can also be explained by Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory (SRT) and/or his General Relativity Theory (GRT). In my opinion, these explanations are complex and convoluted and often assume a “preferred” reference frame in contradiction to their own postulates.
In my opinion the entrained aether model has never been properly tested. All interferometer type experiments to date have been performed at or near the Earth’s surface where the entrained aether model expects a “null” result. The crucial test would be perform the experiment outside the Earth’s hypothesized halo of entrained aether.
I therefore propose that we perform the Michelson-Morley experiment on a spacecraft launched into interplanetary space.
I believe the experiment would have a clear positive result providing strong evidence of the validity of the entrained aether model. An interesting question: what result would Einstein’s Relativity predict?
It is best to send it into interplanetary space because some entrained aether concepts hypothesize that the entrained aether halo could extend out to where the Earth’s gravity field meets the Sun’s. This could be as far as 1,000,000 km from the Earth’s surface. Beyond this distance, it is unlikely that the flow of aether past the craft as it orbits the Sun would affected by the Earth’s aether halo.
Repeating the Michelson-Morley experiment in interplanetary space would also have several advantages compared to terrestrial based experiments.
The arms of terrestrial experiments can be distorted by external vibrations, uneven temperature variations, and air currents. A space based interferometer would not be subject to these potential sources of systematic errors (assuming it is well shielded from sunlight).
Terrestrial based experiments are usually located in a lab where aether flow might be partially or fully blocked by the lab’s walls. However, the arms of the space based interferometer could (and should) be exposed to open space.
Another issue with a terrestrial based experiment is that the rotation axis of the interferometer has to be vertical to prevent distortions due to gravity. An interferometer in “free fall” orbit around the Sun could easily be pointed in any direction to determine the direction of maximum aether flow. It might not be parallel to the craft’s orbital motion. One possibility is that the peak fringe shift would coincide with the motion of the Earth with respect to the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (~ 370 km/sec toward the Leo constellation) as detected by the COBE, WMAP, and Planck spacecraft. There might be a component due to the orbit of the Solar System around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy at ~220 km/sec.
The biggest difficulty of performing this experiment is to convince an organization to do it. The mainstream physics community is so certain that Special Relativity and General Relativity are correct that this proposal would never be approved by them. Proposals to perform the experiment on a spacecraft launched into low Earth orbit were made when it became technically feasible but were ignored.
However, today there are more organizations (governmental and private) that are capable of launching a spacecraft to escape velocity than existed 20 years ago.
The project would be relatively inexpensive compared to other interplanetary missions. In addition to the interferometer, it would need a Sun shield, communications components, a control module, a power source, and thrusters or gyros to control its orientation and spin. It could use an Ion Engine to achieve escape velocity minimizing its mass. It could include other experiments to offset the cost of the primary mission.
I urge the members of the CNPS, the CNPS organization, and other readers of this post to promote this project. Maybe a wealthy person would be interested. Maybe a country like India or China would be open minded to the aether concept. Maybe a Kickstarter project could raise at least part of the money to fund it.