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Physics The Aether. Everything You Need To Know About The Mysterious Aether, Michelson Morley's Experient And Einstein's Genius Answer.

1527 words - 6 pages

Yr 2004- Research Project 12SPACE1. Outline the features of the aether model for the transmission of light. (2)James Clerk Maxwell proved that light was a wave. Physicists at the time were accustomed to believing all waves must have a medium to be transmitted- like air particles for sound. Because one could not be seen, a model for transmission was invented. Physicist called the medium luminiferous aether and was said 'to carry the motion of light'. It was therefore assumed that the velocity of light, 'c' must be in with respect, or in the frame of reference, to the aether, which was therefore an absolute frame of reference for everything. Aether must have existed anywhere light did and could. The aether model was originally given these features:- At prefect rest i.e. Completely stationary (absolute frame of reference)- Perfectly transparent (completely invisible)- Fills all space- Insignificant resistance; otherwise objects, like planets, moving through it would loose their energy- Insignificant density. Originally thought to be a liquid- Permeated all matter and was permeable to matter.- Have great elasticity to propagate light waves.The proposed features of the aether changed over time. When it was discovered that light was a transverse wave, the aether would have to be solid because transverse waves can only travel in solids, and a solid would be required for the high speed of electromagnetic waves. It was later proposed that the aether changed depending on the motion going through it; wax for electromagnetic waves and liquid for planetary motion. Simply, the aether provided an absolute frame of reference because it was stationary in space, and light had a fixed speed relative to the aether. Simply, it provided an explanation for how light was transmitted.2. Describe and evaluate the Michelson-Morley attempt to measure the relative velocity of the Earth through the aether.Using the hypothesis of the aether, the prediction of an 'aether wind' was made. As the Earth rotates and orbits the Sun, it should move relative to the aether and therefore create an aether wind, which should affect the speed of light. Michelson and Morley independently carried out the same experiment to try and measure the velocity of the earth through the aether by measuring the aether wind. Light travelling in the same direction as the aether wind should be helped, light against the wind should be slower, and light perpendicular to the wind should experience no change. The experiment is set up as shown below:The whole apparatus is mounted on a solid stone block for stability and is floated in a bath of mercury so that it could be rotated smoothly about a central axis. When light hits the half-silvered mirror, half of it is reflected upwards to mirror 1, the other half is refracted towards mirror 2. The two mirrors are at right angles to each other. Once light has been reflected of each mirror, it recombines and...

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