Lie #2 – Michelson-Morley and Aether
The second installment of the greatest lies in physics is; “the Michelson-Morley experiment disproved the existence of aether.” This experiment is often credited as the reason for denying the existence of aether or in modern terms denying the existence of vacuum fluctuations, even though Einstein with Hopf inadvertently proved in 1910 that the experiment would not detect vacuum fluctuations that behave in accordance with a Planck’s theory.
The conjecture that led to the experiment is credited to Maxwell. His idea was that there was an aether drag on light and since the earth was moving relative to the aether this drag could be detected as a change in the speed of light. The experiment was then designed to measure the speed of light in two directions at 90-degree angles to each other. One funny oversight of the experiment is that they were thinking they could see the velocity of the earth relative to the sun rather than perhaps the sun relative to the galaxy or the galaxy relative to the aether rest frame. The later would be what they would really measure if they could measure it. This classical concept of aether drag is certainly incorrect as the experiment shows, but the experiment is irrelevant to the existence of modern aether, the vacuum fluctuations and zero-point energy.
Did you ever wonder why the premise of the Michelson-Morley experiment was to test for the existence of aether, but the answer was frame transformation equations? One of the important things to note with the Michelson-Morley experiment is that the light source and detectors are in the same reference frame, so under any hypothetical frame transformation scheme a frame transformation is not required. The frame transformation math simply does not apply in this case.
It is quite odd that while the conjecture that led to the experiment was long ago disproved physicists continue to refer to it and even perform more advanced versions of the experiment in a continuing effort, it appears, to prove that they do not know what they are doing.
From my blog: http://www.physicsheretic.com