Feynman Misinterprets the Michelson-Morley Experiment

Dec 27, 2022
Richard Feynman: "The result of the Michelson-Morley experiment was very puzzling and most disturbing. The first fruitful idea for finding a way out of the impasse came from Lorentz. He suggested that material bodies contract when they are moving, and that this foreshortening is only in the direction of the motion." https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_15.html

"Most disturbing" for etherists. For advocates of Newton's variable speed of light (e.g. Walther Ritz https://www.academia.edu/69646000/Ritz_Einstein_and_the_Emission_Hypothesis) the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment meant victory of truth. Unfortunately, fraudsters are stronger than true scientists and the victory of truth often becomes humiliating defeat in the end.

Originally, without Lorentz's "fruitful" fudge factor, the Michelson-Morley experiment was compatible with Newton's variable speed of light, c'=c±v, and incompatible with the constant speed of light, c'=c, posited by the ether theory and later adopted by Einstein as his 1905 second postulate:

"Emission theory, also called emitter theory or ballistic theory of light, was a competing theory for the special theory of relativity, explaining the results of the Michelson–Morley experiment of 1887...The name most often associated with emission theory is Isaac Newton. In his corpuscular theory Newton visualized light "corpuscles" being thrown off from hot bodies at a nominal speed of c with respect to the emitting object, and obeying the usual laws of Newtonian mechanics, and we then expect light to be moving towards us with a speed that is offset by the speed of the distant emitter (c ± v)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emission_theory

"Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether." Banesh Hoffmann, Relativity and Its Roots, p.92 https://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Its-Roots-Banesh-Hoffmann/dp/0486406768

Dec 27, 2022
Einsteinians have been teaching, for more than a century, that the Michelson-Morley experiment disproved the existence of the ether but proved the constancy of the speed of light:

Philip Ball: "Michelson and Morley set out to detect the ether by recording the velocity of beams of light travelling in different directions. They expected to see different speeds for each beam, caused by the motion of Earth through the ether. To their surprise, they saw nothing of the sort — the speed of light remained constant in all directions...Einstein wasted no time in getting rid of the ether, but he kept Lorentz invariance as a fundamental feature of relativity. In essence, Einstein said there is no absolute reference frame; rather, it is the speed of light that provides an unvarying reference against which all other motions must be measured." https://www.nature.com/articles/427482a

This is disgusting brainwashing that turned out to be extremely efficient. Nowadays there is no essential difference between brainwashers and brainwashed. Philip Ball does not lie deliberately in the text above - he sincerely believes that the Michelson-Morley experiment has proved absence of ether and constancy of the speed of light.

In the Michelson-Morley experiment, the two perpendicular beams returned simultaneously while Michelson and Morley expected them not to return simultaneously. Why did they have the wrong expectation? Because in their calculations they had used c'=c, speed of light independent of the speed of the source. If, in their calculations (which have been reproduced countless times in textbooks), you replace c'=c with c'=c±v, speed of light dependent on v, the speed of the source (as per Newton), you obtain simultaneous return.

Consider calculations reproducing the original calculations of Michelson and Morley:

Richard Feynman: "First, let us calculate the time required for the light to go from B to E and back. Let us say that the time for light to go from plate B to mirror E is t_1, and the time for the return is t_2. Now, while the light is on its way from B to the mirror, the apparatus moves a distance ut_1, so the light must traverse a distance L + ut_1, at the speed c." http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_15.html

Feynman's last words,

"at the speed c",

obey the light postulate of special relativity:

"The speed of light is independent of the speed of the source".

If, instead of "at the speed c", we have a new assumption,

"at the speed c + u",

in accordance with Newton's theory, the calculation (based on the new assumption) will give a new prediction,

t_1 + t_2 = 2t_3 = 2L/c,

which exactly matches the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment.
Last edited:
Aug 14, 2020
I don't see the real space-real time object anywhere. I see only the relative space-relative time light-image subject. There are three points to consider, two objectively real points and one subjectively relative point, in the actual, the real, picture, not two! It becomes a matter of 3-point triangulation, not a matter of 1-dimensional line between two points, one objectively real point and one subjectively relative point. You, too, keep on playing a false game. You, too, keep going with a false picture.

The fast picture, the very fast picture, is the unobserved, the unobservable, real picture between the two objectively real points. The slow picture, the very slow picture, is the observed, the observable, relative picture between either of the objectively real points and the subjectively relative point. Only the constancy of the speed of light ('c') forces the picture to a geometry of 3-point (real * | relative * | real *) [expansive / contractive] geometric triangulation rather than 2-point (objectively real * | subjectively relative *) line.

They did 2-point (real * / relative *) 1-dimensional line thinking all the way. You do 2-point (real * / relative *) 1-dimensional line thinking, just as they do, all the way. There ends up no real difference between you. Not only that, it looks, to me, to confuse you constantly dealing in exactly the same line picture, just trying to deal in it differently. That whole picture of a 1-dimensional single-line between just two points, just between two points [only], is the mess.
Last edited:

Latest posts