Disproving the aether (1 Viewer)

ron13

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I don't understand, if the aether was proposed as a medium for the propogation of light. How does Einstein's 1905 paper on special relativity prove that the aether was superfluous. Even if light travels at a constant speed shouldn't it theoretically have a medium to travel through. Surely it was not until his research on the photoelectric effect where he found a wave/particle nature of light that he could call the aether superfluous?
 

Physics_FTW

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James Clerk Maxwell's equations on electromagnetism seem to rely on the existence of the aether and he was the one which suggested the use of an interferometer to measure the speed of a frame of reference with respect to this 'ultimate rest frame' -- later tested by Michelson and Morley and the 'null result' obtained.
How could this be explained?
1. Maxwell was right, but Galilean relativity was wrong
2. Maxwell was wrong, Galilean relativity was right
3. Both were right and something else happened (eg Lorentz proposed that the moving objects are contracted in direction of motion) -- this is what was thought by the physicists of the day

The Lorentz transformation eqns (basically the 'time dilation', 'length contraction' etc...) formulae were used to describe the changed in the object

Einstein figured out that these eqns could be applied to space and time itself, rather than to the object and the application of these transformation eqns to space and time could explain the 'null result' obtained by MM.

Einstein thought, although Maxwells equations seemed to rely on the existence of this 'preferred reference frame' (aether), why would electromagnetic interactions need this to be defined, but dynamic interactions (i.e., gravity, newtons laws) do not? Einstein no likey this mathematical contradiction of these different interactions. Einstein showed that the Lorentz transformations were enough to explain length contraction etc... provided that Galilean Relativity (i.e., Velocity of A relative to B = Velocity of A - velocity B) was not entirely accurate.

So basically, What Lorentz and others thought (before Einstein published SR) was the Lorentz transformations were applied to the objects, in the presence of the aether
Einstein said, the aether is not needed to explain the transformations, if the transformations actually occur within spacetime (something Lorentz and Poincare rejected), therefore rendering the aether unneeded to explain the occurences, hence rendering it superfluous.

On a side note, in 1920 when Einstein came up with General relativity, he re-introduced some of the aspects of this magical 'aether'
 
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ron13

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Ok but I still can't understand something though. Scientists of the day though light waves needed a medium to travel through, right? The aether. When Einstein proposed Special Relativity he said this supposed aether medium did not exist. It was not until later that year he proposed particle-wave nature i.e. photons. Although special relativity was near universally accepted, photons were not for another 15 years. After accepting special relativity and that there was no aether, how did people think light waves traveled?
 

iSplicer

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Ok but I still can't understand something though. Scientists of the day though light waves needed a medium to travel through, right? The aether. When Einstein proposed Special Relativity he said this supposed aether medium did not exist. It was not until later that year he proposed particle-wave nature i.e. photons. Although special relativity was near universally accepted, photons were not for another 15 years. After accepting special relativity and that there was no aether, how did people think light waves traveled?
That was actually one of the reasons people were highly skeptical of Einstein's theories before modern tech could back it up. They asked; "if that frizzy haired lunatic is right, HOW DOES LIGHT TRAVEL WITHOUT A MEDIUM ROFLMAO?!?!?! ITS WRONG TROLLOLOLOLOOL."
 

Eddy Q

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That was actually one of the reasons people were highly skeptical of Einstein's theories before modern tech could back it up. They asked; "if that frizzy haired lunatic is right, HOW DOES LIGHT TRAVEL WITHOUT A MEDIUM ROFLMAO?!?!?! ITS WRONG TROLLOLOLOLOOL."
omg =O
 

k02033

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The answer is simple. You just have to think about the real purpose of proposing a medium for light in the first place. (the purpose is not just so that light has something to "sit" in and then attach a fancy name to the medium, that idea is trivial and provides no real purpose)
 
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mirakon

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That was actually one of the reasons people were highly skeptical of Einstein's theories before modern tech could back it up. They asked; "if that frizzy haired lunatic is right, HOW DOES LIGHT TRAVEL WITHOUT A MEDIUM ROFLMAO?!?!?! ITS WRONG TROLLOLOLOLOOL."
whilst your response was good, please never say TROLOLOLOL in this context again
 

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