Is the aether real? By Dilip D James M.Sc, A(mus.T.C.L), Lond.

Before we move on to a discussion on the merits or demerits of an Aether, it is probably best to try to understand the theory that replaced it, namely, special relativity. The best way in which to understand the implications of special relativity is through a philosophical approach. In order to understand special relativity, think of two planets in space. The planets are separated by a distance of 10 light years, a slender space corridor has been established between these two planets, that we can call Planet A and Planet B, that is only a 100 Km in diameter. Imagine that this is a very busy corridor, with at least a 1000 vehicles all travelling at near light speed going to and from the two planets (i.e., bi-directional traffic) at any given time. Given that in order to keep the speed of light constant each of these 1000 objects travelling at near light speeds are all seeing a different space, with a different time and space for each of the other 999 space commuters, time and space must become incredibly convoluted? What this in effect means is that the human mind does not exist in space, reality in the form that we are used to; does not exist.

Consider the following from the above scenario:-

Considering that planet A and B are 10 light years apart as seen by an observer on earth. Let us see how speed affects 5 spaceships, (a), (b),(d), (e) and (f) all travelling from Planet B towards Planet A. The respective speeds of the spaceships are (a) = 0.5c, (b) =(0.6c), (d) =0.7c , e = 0.8 c and f = 0.9c then the following equation will give how long each of these spaceships will travel to reach earth:

The time taken for each spaceship to travel to earth as seen by n observer on earth would be as follows:-

a) Traveling at 0.5c it would take 20 years

b) Would take 16.666 years

d) Would take 14.2 years

e) Would take 12.5 years

f) Would take 11.111 years

From the viewpoint of each of the spaceships:

t‘ = t x sqrt (1- v² /c²)

For (a) t = 20 years x sqrt 0.75 = 16.66 years

For (b) t = 16.66 years x sqrt 0.64 = 13.33 years

For ( d) t = 14.2 tears x sqrt 0.51 = 10.14 years

For (e) t = 12.50 years x sqrt 0.6 = 7.50 years

For ( f) t = 11.11years x sqrt 0.43 = 4.8 years

So in each case for a person on earth a different time in years would have passed to that experienced on the space ships. While less time would have passed for the individual travellers depending on the speed of their spaceships, the faster the ship the less time taken for the journey. Time varies in special relativity, it is no longer constant, each traveller experiences a different time. So, if the clock on the spaceship (f) is measuring time properly according to an observer moving with the clock, how can we account for the fact that the observer on the ship seems to cover a distance of 10 light years in 4.8 years, which would imply that they’re traveling at a speed of 2.08c? That absolutely cannot be true. For one thing, one of the implications of relativity is that nothing can travel faster than c, the speed of light in vacuum. c is the ultimate speed limit in the universe. For another, two observers will always agree on their relative velocities. If the person on the Earth sees the spaceship moving at 0.9c, the observer on the spaceship agrees that the Earth is moving at 0.9c with respect to the spaceship (and because the other planet B is not moving relative to the Earth), everyone’s in agreement that the relative velocity between the spaceship and planet is 0.9c. So, distance is velocity multiplied by time and we know the velocity and time measured by the observer on the spacecraft is 0.9c and 4.8 years. This implies that they measure a distance for the trip of 4.32 light-years, much smaller than the 10 light-year distance measured by the observer on the Earth. Similarly, each of the other spaceship (a),(b), (d) and ( e) would also experience length contraction. For instance (a) would have to be travelling at 1.15c which is not possible so, in fact, he is travelling a lesser distance of 4.8 light years as opposed to a distance of 10 light years as observed from earth. (b) would have to be traveling at 1.25c which again is not possible so the distance is 0.6c x 8.00 years or 4.8 light years and for (d) the speed would be 1.4c which is disallowed so instead the distance contracts to 0.7c x 7.41 = 5.18 light years instead of 10 light years and lastly (e ) would be travelling at 1.6c, instead the distance travelled is reduced to 4.8 light years. The reasoning behind this is as follows: The idea is that light does not experience time, since the faster you go through space the slower you go through time and vice-versa. The journey would be instant for you but to an outside observer (assuming they were standing still) would see your journey take just over four years.

Similarly, light does not experience distance, since the faster you go through time the less distance you have to cover.

Out of the thousand spaceships, we started off with, in our example, we have considered 5 and the results are astonishing, each of those 5 spaceships experiences a different time interval and a different distance over which it has to travel. What the reader has to decide is whether the distances and time intervals appear to change or if they really do change. In either case, it is a pretty complicated scenario.

The material fact that is often lost sight of in these kind of abstruse calculations is that these are real disturbances in space. Each of the observers is experiencing a unique distortion of time and space if you have a thousand observers on each of the thousand spaceships each of them would be experiencing a different time and space experience. Does this, make sense? If one is absolutely realistic about it, it doesn’t.

It might be of some interest to see what scientists of the time thought of relativity: Ernest Rutherford: “No anglo-saxon can understand relativity. They have too much sense.” And “The theory of relativity by Einstein, quite apart from any question of its validity, cannot but be regarded as a magnificent work of art.”

With regard to quantum mechanics he said: “ If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.”

In his book Relativity, Joke or Swindle Louis Essen the inventor of the atomic clock quotes: The splitter of the atom (Rutherford) as treating relativity as a joke and quotes Soddy (co-discoverer of the transmutation of elements) as thinking of it as a swindle. He goes on to say if these eminent people have been ignored what chance has this author of changing the ‘swindle’?

Nikolai Tesla had this to say on relativity: “Einstein’s theory of relativity is] a magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king… its exponents are brilliant men, but they are meta-physicists rather than scientists.” ~ Nikola Tesla, Inventor and Electrical Engineer (1856–1943)

Needless to say that there numerous other distinguished physicists who also debunked special relativity all to no avail.

But what does an Aether theory have to offer? If we ignore the absurd luminiferous version of the aether which would have to be both solid and permeable to matter at the same time the Aether is a fantastic concept. The Aether has the following properties to offer. Firstly it would provide a Universal frame of reference. This means that all positions in the universe, even the positions of stars billions of light years distant can be physically referenced with respect to the Aether. This is possible since there is no question of length contraction in a universal frame of reference. Secondly all time would be absolute, in other words, you could travel to stars a billion kilometres distant and calculate the time with respect to Greenwich mean time. In other words, the Universe returns from the incredibly twisted and convoluted spacetime of special relativity to everyday terrestrial or Newtonian physics. The third phenomenon would be that the speed of light is constant regardless of the motion of the observer or of the source or of either simultaneously because it is a wave travelling through a medium and its speed is solely governed by the properties of the medium. Thus, it would travel at the same speed regardless of the energy imparted to it, its amplitude might increase but the velocity would stay the same. Fourthly the existence of an Aether would explain the mass-energy equivalence and why nothing in the Universe can exceed the speed of light. The Aether (as conceived by Gestalt Aether Theory) is the closest thing to pure energy that we know of. Any object trying to travel through this pure energy would experience a rapid increase in mass as the speed increased, till at near the speed of light the mass of the object would become infinite! Lastly, the Aether would conclusively explain causality. Not to be ignored is the fact that an Aether would offer an explanation for why the speed of light is constant and not something pulled out of a top hat without explanation as special relativity does. If you would like to know more about this explanation of an Aether please read my paper on the Electromagnetic Universe at Academia:

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