Imminent falsification of Special Relativity?
Date: Friday, August 05, 2005 @ 04:01:32 GMT
Topic: Science

Bender772 writes: There's now a good chance that mainstream experiments will falsify special relativity within the next year.

For years, relativity skeptics have been pointing out that the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment is a myth, and that a small ether drift had been observed that cannot be explained away by experimental error. They have also pointed out that Miller's careful experimental work had confirmed this ether drift.

These criticisms have been completely ignored by the physics establishment, and not without justification. Modern, and much more accurate experiments such as the Brillet-Hall experiment of 1979 and the Müller experiment of 2003 have failed to detect aether drifts, suggesting that the results of the older experiments had been due to experimental error.

Only recently, an explanation was found that reconciles these seemingly contradictory results. Dr. Reg Cahill of Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, creator of a possible Theory of Everything called Process Physics and K. Kitto created a unified analysis of Michelson-Morley type experiments based on the Lorentz transform that takes into account the (heretofore ignored) refractive index of the medium in which light propagation takes place.

Their revolutionary claim is that the effect size in the M-M experiment is proportional to (N-1) where N is the refractive index of the medium. Their formula fits all the M-M experiments that have been published in the literature, including the null results of the modern vacuum experiments (N=1).

Unfortunately, these results have until recently been ignored by the physics establishment. This has now changed.

The Cahill-Kitto analysis of M-M experiments has found a mainstream advocate in Maurizio Consoli, a physicist at the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics. Consoli managed to get this idea published in a mainstream physics journal:

M. Consoli, E. Costanzo: From classical to modern ether-drift experiments: the narrow window for a preferred frame. Physics Letters A, Volume 333, Issues 5-6, 13 December 2004, Pages 355-363.)

Consoli has extended Cahill's argument to vacuum experiments. He argues that the gravitational field of the earth changes N a little from the N=1 of the ideal vacuum, which explains the tiny deviations found in the Müller experiment.

Readers who do not have access to a science library can find Consoli's arguments online at

(M. Consoli and E. Costanzo, The motion of the Solar System and the Michelson-Morley experiment,)

According to a recent article in New Scientist ("Catching the cosmic wind", 02 April 2005 issue), this has resulted in a communications breakthrough. Müller's former group at Humboldt University, Berlin is likely to replicate the M-M experiment using a dense, gaseous medium instead of a vacuum. Here's a relevant excerpt from the New Scientist story.

Consoli says any Michelson-Morley type of experiment carried out in a vacuum will show no difference in the speed of light in different directions, even if there is an ether. But he points out that some theories, such as the electroweak theory and quantum field theory, suggest that light could appear to move at different speeds in different directions in a medium such as a dense gas. The size of the effect would depend on the refractive index of the medium - and any motion relative to an ether.

With the Earth careering through space into an ether wind, light in one arm of the gas-filled interferometer would travel faster than light in the other, "just as was seen in the classic non-vacuum experiments of Michelson and Morley and others," Consoli says. The 8-kilometres-per-second result for the speed of the ether wind relative to the Earth came from using an interferometer filled with air, he points out. Experiments performed using helium-filled interferometers have obtained 3 kilometres per second and those using a "soft" vacuum 1 kilometre per second. The more rarefied the medium that light is shone through, the smaller the effect of the speed of the Earth's movement relative to any ether.

The cavity experiments will be even more sensitive to this. If there is an ether, Consoli predicts there will be a large jump in the frequency difference between the cavities - perhaps by a factor of 10,000, or even 100,000. The experiment will cost about $200,000 to set up and perform, but it will be worth it. "This is the crucial experiment," he says. "If such an effect is not seen, we will have closed the last experimental window."

It is not a straightforward experiment to perform, though. Experimenters have managed to produce a laser frequency stable enough to carry out experiments for hundreds of days only by cooling the cavities to close to absolute zero. If a gas is introduced at these temperatures it will freeze: it's going to take quite some ingenuity to overcome the problem. Nevertheless, a group of physicists at Humboldt University are considering taking on the challenge. "There is a good chance we will do the experiment," says Achim Peters, one of the group.

It's going to be a much-watched piece of lab work. "If someone does do it, I will be very interested in the result," says Holger Müller of Stanford University, California, who was involved in laser cavity experiments at Humboldt before moving to the US. Müller admits that a positive result would have profound implications for physics. For a start it would mean that one of Einstein's contemporaries Hendrik Lorentz, has been denied proper recognition. Lorentz, not Einstein, would have to be credited with the definitive theory of relativity

I cannot overemphasize the importance of this development. This may be be the best chance in decades for a definite, resounding, undeniable experimental falsification of Einstein's relativity, something that relativity skeptics have been laboring to achieve for the past 100 years. If this happens, then the ether is back, and Einstein's relativity theory, which has retarded progress in vacuum energy and antigravity for a hundred years, will be thrown out. This is great news for new energy.

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