Gatot Soedarto
5 min readApr 8, 2016


Albert Einstein Began by Rejecting the Ether Theory………

The luminiferous aether: it was hypothesised that the Earth moves through a “medium” of aether that carries light

The classical scientists such as Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Sir Isaac Newton and others believed that the light of the stars reaching us on earth crept spreading through a medium the so-called luminiferous ether. However various kinds of experiments had been made, among other was an experiment conducted by the American Scientists Michelson and Morrey 19th century, and all of those experiments failed to detect the presence of luminiferous ether, so that the ether is deemed non-existent. There is a possibility that luminiferous ether truly exists, but it cannot be proven.

“Luminiferous aether, aether or ether, meaning light-bearing aether, was the postulated medium for the propagation of light.It was invoked to explain the ability of the apparently wave-based light to propagate through empty space, something that waves should not be able to do. The assumption of a spatial plenum of luminiferous aether, rather than a spatial vacuum, provided the theoretical medium that was required by wave theories of light.

The concept was the topic of considerable debate throughout its history, as it required the existence of an invisible and infinite material with no interaction with physical objects. As the nature of light was explored, especially in the 19th century, the physical qualities required of the aether became increasingly contradictory. By the late 1800s, the existence of the aether was being questioned, although there was no physical theory to replace it.

The negative outcome of the Michelson–Morley experiment suggested that the aether was non-existent. This led to considerable theoretical work to explain the propagation of light without an aether.”(wikipedia)

In 1905 Einstein rejecting the ether theory

Albert Einstein rejecting the ether theory can be read on the book ‘Universe and Dr.Einstein’, by Lincoln Barnett, London, 1949, page 38.

“Among those who pondered the enigma of the Michelson-Morley experiment was a young patent office examiner in Berne, named Albert Einstein. In 1905, when he was just twenty-six years old, he published a short paper suggesting an answer to the riddle in terms that opened up a new world of physical thought. He began by rejecting the ether theory and with it the whole idea of space as a fixed system or framework, absolutely at rest, within which it is possible to distinguish absolute from relative motion. The one indisputable fact established by the Michelson-Morley experiment was that the velocity of light in unaffected by the motion of the earth. Einstein seized on this as a revelation of universal law. If the velocity of light is constant regardless of the earth’s motion, he reasoned, it must be constant regardless of motion of any Sun, moon, star, meteor, or other syatem moving anywhere in universe. From this he drew a broader generalization, and asserted that the laws of nature are the same for alls uniformly moving system. This simple statement is the essence of Einstein’s Special theory of Relativity. It incorporates the Galilean Relativity Principle which states that mechanical laws are the same for all uniformly moving systems. But its phrasing is more comprehensive; for Einstein was thinking not only of mechanical laws laws but of the laws governing light and other electromagnetic phenomena. So he lumped them together in one fundamental postulate: all the phenomena of nature, all the law of nature, are the same for all systems that move uniformly relative to one another” (Universe and Dr.Einstein,Lincoln Barnett,London,1949, preface by Albert Einstein himself, page 38)

Einstein’s special theory of relativity states that the light velocity is the highest speed in this universe or nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. And the velocity of light is constant or light always travels at the same speed as ‘a revelation of universal law’. Unfortunately, a revelation of universal law is false.

In this case Einstein ignored the refraction of light. Speed of light and other electromagnetic waves slow down by refraction when passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.

According to Stephen Hawking:

“The theory also tells us that nothing can travel faster than light. The special theory of relativity was very successful in explaining that the speed of light appears the same to all observers (as shown by the Michelson-Morley experiment) and in describing what happens when things move at speeds close to the speed of light. However, it was inconsistent with the Newtonian theory of gravity, which said that objects attracted each other with a force that depended on the distance between them. This meant that if one moved one of the objects, the force on the other one would change instantaneously. Or in other gravitational effects should travel with infinite velocity, instead of at or below the speed of light, as the special theory of relativity required. Einstein made a number of unsuccessful attempts between 1908 and 1914 to find a theory of gravity that was consistent with special relativity. Finally, in 1915, he proposed what we now call the general theory of relativity. Einstein made the revolutionary suggestion that gravity is not a force like other forces, but is a consequence of the fact that space-time is not flat, as had been previously assumed: it is curved, or “warped,” by the didistribution of mass and energy in it.”(A Brief History of Time).

Einstein’s general relativity resolved conflicts between Newton theory of gravity and the special theory of relativity. But ……..make a big conflict with his special relativity itself about the existing of ether. In special relativity Einstein rejecting the ether theory: ether do not exist. In this theory Einstein believe in Michelson-Morley experiments.

But in general relativity -1920 -Einstein accepting the ether theory, in other words Einstein didn’t believe in Michelson-Morley experiments.

In 1920 Einstein accepting the ether theory

Albert Einstein said: “Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time …”
(Albert Einstein gave an address on 5 May 1920 at the University of Leiden)

In 1920 Einstein said about ether corresponding with classical ether. But in his paper in 1924, named “Concerning the Aether”, Einstein explained the “aether of general relativity” is not absolute, because matter is influenced by the aether, just as matter influences the structure of the aether.

So the only similarity of this relativistic aether concept with the classical aether models lies in the presence of physical properties in space. Therefore, Einstein’s use of the word “aether” found little support in the scientific community, and played no role in the continuing development of modern physics.


1.Gatot Soedarto, The Evidence 2016,Amazon-CreateSpace, 2016.

2. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time,1988.



Gatot Soedarto

Navigator, former lecturer on Astronomy. Author: Logical Fallacies of Special and General Theory of Relativity, 1919 Eclipse and General Relativity.