The Post-modern Interpretation of the Michelson-Morley Experiment

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Of all the experiments in science, two experiments stand as the greatest, and they are the Michelson-Morley experiment performed in 1887 and the Pisa experiment performed by Galileo Galilee in 1589 – 1592.

These two different experiments stand as the greatest experiments in science because they inform us about the nature of light and gravity respectively.

However, in this article, I want us to talk about the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment. We will discuss the Pisa experiment in the next article.

The aim of the Michelson-Morley experiment was to detect the existence of the classical aether which was thought to be the medium for the propagation of light by observing how it causes a change in the speed of light.

The classical aether was thought to influence the observed speed of light by its aether wind which was assumed to be produced by the high motion of the Earth around the Sun.

So, the motion of the Earth around the Sun which is about 108, 000 km per hour was assumed to be what would cause the aether to move past the Earth at a considerable speed similar to that of the Earth and that would produce a detectable relative motion with light.

Now, the Michelson-Morley experiment is set up in this manner: “A pulse of light is directed at an angle of 45 degrees at a half-silvered, half transparent mirror, so that half the pulse goes on through the glass, half is reflected. 

They both go on to distant mirrors which reflect them back to the half-silvered mirror.  At this point, they are again half reflected and half transmitted, but a telescope is placed behind the half-silvered mirror as shown in the figure [below] so that half of each half-pulse will arrive in this telescope.” – Reference

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Looking at the diagram above, you can see that from the direction of the aether wind, the ray of light moving horizontally forward and backward will be affected by the aether wind such that the ray of light moving forward towards mirror M2 would have a greater speed relative to the aether wind than the one moving back towards the transparent mirror P relative to the aether wind.

The rays of light moving vertically upward and downward between the transparent mirror P and Mwill be unaffected by the aether wind since they are perpendicular to it.

So, overall, when the return rays of light from mirrors Mand Mrecombine at the transparent mirror and are reflected again to the observer, there should be a delay in their respective travel times. This delay would be what produces any interference pattern observable by the observer.

And of the two waves reaching the observer, if the wave that took a longer time is half a wavelength of the one that took a lesser time, then their interference pattern will cancel.

This is why the Michelson-Morley apparatus above can be rotated 90° so that while one rotates and observes the incoming light, he will be able to see the “variations in the brightness of the incoming light”, thus proving the existence of the aether.

Now, after all these, the Michelson-Morley experiment gave a null result. The speed of light remained the same and no interference pattern was observed. The startling and hard to accept conclusion from all of this was that the classical aether does not exist.

Michelson was unconvinced about this and he sought for other ways to detect the aether. And one of such ways was by performing the experiment on a high mountain since he felt that the aether was so attached to the Earth that no aether wind was created on the Earth surface.

The result still remained void. You would have to be an 18th-century classical physicist to understand the implications of this. The greatest and most worrisome implication of this is that light moves relative to nothing! 

The classical aether was assumed to be the stationary medium in which light moves and relative to which we can say that light travels at 3 × 108 m/s. It is just as sound waves move in air and how they have a speed relative to air or as water waves move in water and how they have a speed relative to water.

Michelson-Morley

Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley

This same analogy could not be applied to light and the aim to resolve this gave birth to the remarkable conceptual framework of relativity.

Now, when we look at how modern relativity resolved or explained the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment, we are really looking at how Einstein attempted to resolve this problem.

I say “attempted” because Einstein did not really resolve the problem as post-modern physics shows us but I will come to that later.

Despite the fact that there were other versions of relativity written by Henri Poincare and Hendrick Lorentz that still included the aether and attempted to explain or justify the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment, Einstein’s version of relativity became accepted as it simply rejected the existence of the classical aether and went further to readdress our understanding of rest in the universe.

It can be said that Einstein’s two simple theses that the laws of physics are the same for all inertial reference frames and that the speed of light is constant were simply a way of asserting that the speed of light is constant because there is no possible way we can determine rest in any absolute sense in the universe.

The second thesis was a direct result of the first thesis. Einstein was importantly informing us that the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment were because rest is not absolute in the universe.

If rest were absolute, then it would apply to the classical aether such that the speed of light becomes that relative to the aether. So, the constancy of the speed of light is because we cannot prove the absoluteness of rest in the universe.

Even if you were in a room observing the speed of light, there is no way in which you can tell if you are at rest or in uniform motion. This is because the speed of light will remain constant no matter how you measure it.

In other words, for you to observe any variation in the speed of light is to observe a violation of the cosmic principle of inertia which Galileo had discovered.

I want you to see why Einstein dismissed the existence of the classical aether which was assumed to be the stationary medium in which light moves. Since rest is now meaningless according to Einstein, then the stationary classical aether does not exist.

So, the modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment when placed together is that since rest is not absolute, the classical aether does not exist and the speed of light is a fundamental constant.

The modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment when placed together is that since rest is not absolute, the classical aether does not exist and the speed of light is a fundamental constant.Click To Tweet

So, that you will understand the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment, I will like us to put together in a list the conclusions of modern physics concerning the Michelson-Morley experiment which are:

  1. Rest is not absolute.
  2. The classical aether does not exist.
  3. The speed of light is a fundamental constant. 

The above resolutions from modern physics constitute the modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment and I want you to observe that I have been mentioning “classical aether” all this while and not just “aether” as shown above.

Why have I been doing this? This is because the concept of aether has not been totally abolished by modern physics and with this thought let me present in a listed manner the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment. They are:

  1. Uniform Rest is absolute.
  2. The classical aether does not exist.
  3. Light is a limit of inertia.

Now, in post-modern physics, we also find the dismissal of the classical aether which is replaced by the post-modern aether and even at that the post-modern aether is only relevant for non-inertial reference frames and not for inertial reference frames.

And since inertial reference frames are the focus of this article and of the Michelson-Morley experiment which informs us that we cannot in any way detect uniform motion, we have no need to make any serious reference to the post-modern aether but you can learn about it in some of my articles.

Having established the non-existence of the classical aether like modern physics, post-modern physics goes ahead to inform us about uniform rest which applies to uniform frames and that uniform rest is not meaningless.

From now on, we will translate to the use of uniform rest and not just rest for inertial reference frames. This is the post-modern view of rest for uniform frames and it is quite beyond the scope of this article but I have talked about it in some of my articles.

So, we are left with the important question: why is the speed of light constant?

Now, listen: the speed of light is constant not because the concept of absolute rest is meaningless but because light is a limit of inertia.

Light as a limit of inertia gives deeper relevance to light and it reveals the deeper essence of the motion of light beyond our familiarity with the observed speed of light which it justifies and is even responsible for.

Every element that can exhibit motion and that is a limit of inertia will always manifest constancy in its apparently observed quantities of motion such as speed and acceleration. This is a fundamental principle in the universe that is responsible for the constancy of the speed of light and not the non-absoluteness or the meaninglessness of rest.

Every element that can exhibit motion and that is a limit of inertia will always manifest constancy in its apparently observed quantities of motion such as speed and acceleration.Click To Tweet

In modern relativity, we find out that the speed of light is constant so that we cannot by any means detect rest or uniform motion. But in post-modern physics, we cannot detect uniform rest and uniform motion for another fundamental reason modern physics cannot capture.

This fundamental reason is that uniform rest an motion are sensationally indistinguishable and are not truly indistinguishable.

This is the new understanding of the (absolute) principle of inertia which now informs us of the sensational equality between uniform rest and uniform motion and not of true equality. I have talked about this in this my article.

In modern physics, the (relative) principle of inertia is taken as a principle of true equality between rest and uniform motion but this is not true.

When we translate to the absolute interpretation of the principle of inertia, we will find out that uniform rest and uniform motion are only sensationally indistinguishable and not truly indistinguishable.

This implies that light is a limit of inertia with respect to uniform rest which is uniquely absolute and is also a limit of inertia. For uniform frames, light is the lower limit of inertia while uniform rest is the upper limit of inertia. You can read this my article on the line diagrams of post-modern physics.

In classical physics, the aether is taken to be the rest frames from which we measure the speed of light. But in post-modern physics, uniform rest is the rest frame from which we talk about the inertia of light.

Uniform rest as a unique state of motion in the universe and that can be unattached to bodies or to the concept of the aether possesses zero inertia. The proportion of inertia for uniform rest is zero and this zero inertia is real in the universe and it is with respect to it that we have the inertia of light.

All bodies in uniform motion possess a true proportion of inertia relative to uniform rest and light is the limit of this proportion of inertia. This is why the speed of light was observed to be constant during the Michelson-Morley experiment.

(I want you to see how the constancy of the speed of light is a result of the underlying absolute nature of light as a limit of inertia and why the speed of light is a concept that does not represent the entire ramifications of the nature of light. I have talked about these things in the linked articles.)

So, contrary to modern physics, the Michelson-Morley experiment was a proof of the existence of meaningfulness of the absoluteness of (uniform) rest, though it corroborated with the modern physics about the non-existence of the classical aether.

Rest is very meaningful in post-modern physics and we cannot detect uniform motion or distinguish it from uniform rest because both are sensationally equal and not because both are truly equal. Every form of rest or motion in the universe is real.

Every form of rest or motion in the universe is real.Click To Tweet

We have only being misled by the sensational equality of these states of motion to derive some incomplete principles of the universe and to found modern relativity.

But when we capture both the sensational equality and the true inequality of these states of motion, we will derive the complete principles of the universe and we shall found post-modern physics or absolute relativity.

The fact that rest is meaningless in modern physics makes the speed of light just a fundamental constant we have to accept without any further justification. This may be worrisome to you if you have taught about this to any length.

The questions become: why is light different? What is it about light that could make it manifest a constant speed in the universe? Is it just because the universe wants to ensure that we find no way of detecting uniform motion?

Post-modern physics is informing us that light is different and that it manifests a constant speed in the universe because it is a limit of inertia and that it is not because the universe wants to ensure that we find no way of detecting uniform motion.

This is all the more realized when you go deeper into post-modern physics and you find out that even for accelerated frames light is a limit of inertia though in a different way from how it is for uniform frames and yet accelerated motion is detectable.

So, the universe does not make light a limit of inertia or makes the speed of light constant for uniform frames so that it can make uniform motion undetectable. Rather the universe makes motion undetectable by making inertia insensible during motion.

The universe makes motion undetectable by making inertia insensible during motion.Click To Tweet

This is the secret of motion that I want you to have from this great article that explains for the first time in history the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Furthermore, light is observed to manifest a constant speed because it is a non-zero limit of inertia. This is unlike uniform rest which is a zero limit of inertia and as such has no observable manifestation in the universe.

However, it still underlies the relevance and the reality of uniform motion. This is why in a fundamental way, we cannot only attach uniform rest to bodies, it also preserves some sort of independent existence.

It is just as light being a limit of inertia preserves an independent existence, so also does uniform rest being a limit of inertia preserves some sort of independent existence.

This is why uniform rest can be said to be what replaces the classical aether in post-modern physics and in the explanation of the Michelson-Morley experiment. This is also why I speak of uniform rest as though it is a manifested phenomenon in the universe (unattached to bodies) and not a state of motion.

The post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment is about the absolute interpretation of this experiment employing conceptual tools that are so underlying and non-evident in the universe.

This is why I must let you know that the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment is about a new kind of physics that supersedes classical and modern physics in assisting us to understand the universe.

Concerning the classical aether which I did not intend speaking much of until now, I want you to know that even according to post-modern physics there is no such thing as an “aether wind”. The aether exists but not how classical physics described it.

The aether exists as the second non-mechanical wave in the universe after light and not as the stationary medium for the propagation of light. It is the non-mechanical wave that underpins all accelerated motions in the universe.

The aether exists as the second non-mechanical wave in the universe after light and not as the stationary medium for the propagation of light.Click To Tweet

This is the much I can say in this article as our focus is now on light and considering that the classical aether does not exist.

This is the point that I will like to make reference to the Treatise. In the Treatise, the mechanisms of space contraction and time dilation are explained making reference to light as a limit of inertia.

While modern physics inserts the speed of light or light as a speed limit into the explanation of these mechanisms, post-modern physics doesn’t, rather it inserts the absolute nature of light as a limit of inertia into the explanation of these mechanisms of space contraction and time dilation.

I am saying the above to prepare you for what you will find in the Treatise if you haven’t gotten yours. So, approach the new physics with an open mind and be prepared to know that you are being introduced to the absolute nature of the universe.

An extract from the Treatise is what has been used to elucidate to you in this article the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment which can only truly be interpreted by the recognition of the absolute nature of light.

A whole lot of the problem of unifying physics can be traced to our wrong or will I rather say incomplete interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment. This is no longer the case as we have now taken into consideration all the conceptual factors necessary for us to understand this great experiment.

We now understand this great experiment by looking beyond the relative into the absolute and by looking past the apparent into the real. This is the current situation about the interpretation of this experiment.

The post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment informs us that (uniform) rest is meaningful and that the observed speed of light is constant because light is underlyingly a limit of inertia.

The post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment informs us that (uniform) rest is meaningful and that the observed speed of light is constant because light is underlyingly a limit of inertia.Click To Tweet

We used to understand the speed of light to be a speed limit in the universe and this superficial understanding cannot be associated with absolute rest, but in post-modern physics, we understand the inertia of light to be a limit of inertia and this deeper understanding can be associated with absolute rest.

This is because we have redefined the interpretation of the principle of inertia to be a principle of sensational equality and not of true equality. If you understand this, then you will easily understand the post-modern interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

When we accelerate, we sense acceleration and then we say that we have inertia. But when we move uniformly, we do not sense uniform motion and then we say that we do not have inertia.

Post-modern physics is re-interpreting the Michelson-Morley experiment by informing us that the above understanding we have of motion is wrong. Whether we move in uniform motion or in accelerated motion, we always have inertia, it’s just that we sense it for accelerated motion and we don’t sense it for uniform motion.

The above understanding of motion is the key to not just understanding the true interpretation of the Michelson-Morley experiment but to also unlocking the entire mystery of motion and of the universe.

Finally, for the Michelson-Morley experiment, post-modern physics also agrees with modern physics that the classical aether does not exist but it does not agree that rest is meaningless. It asserts that rest is meaningful and that the speed of light is constant because light is a limit of inertia.

Until next time,

I will be here.

– M. V. Echa

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M. V. Echa

M. V. Echa

My message is the universe, my truth is the universe, and this blog contains all you need to know about the universe, from the true nature of reality to the long-sought unity of the cosmos — which is the big picture!