Posts Tagged ‘Maxwell’s 1873 Treatise’

6 Michelson

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Despite the theoretically problematic nature of the aether, it was still assumed to be there, that no other satisfactory explanation was available, even in principle. Hence Albert Abraham Michelson set out, in the years following Maxwell’s 1873 Treatise, to find out more about it.

Michelson reasoned that if there was an aether then the Earth must be moving through it. It was generally considered that Maxwell had shown that light was a wave in this medium, moving, as do other known waves, at a speed dictated by properties of that medium. This clearly suggested that the speed of light calculated by Maxwell was the speed relative to that medium, and Michelson reasoned that its velocity relative to his laboratory would differ from this due to the orbit and rotation of the Earth. (more…)