The Michelson Morley experiment

During the 1880s two Americans, Albert Michelson (1852-1931) and Edward Morley (1838-1923), carried out a series of experiments to measure the velocity of the earth through space. If the universe was filled with a stationary 'ether', we would expect to experience an 'ether wind' as we hurtled through space in our orbit around the sun. Light would appear to go faster with a following ether wind and more slowly when struggling against it. This should be reflected as a difference in the measured value of the speed of light travelling in different directions.

Michelson and Morley built an optical apparatus to determine if the speed of light did depend on direction. The effect they were looking for was so small and the experimental set-up so delicate that, in order to reduce vibration, all trams in the city of Los Angeles were stopped whilst measurements were being taken.

Albert Michelson. With Edward Morley he carried out a series of delicate experiments to look for evidence of light being 'swept along by an ether wind'.
0 0

Post a comment