Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Remembering ether, the substance that just had to be there

Spread the love
The outer spheres of the traditional celestial cosmos were ether. The grubby, heavy stuff that falls to the middle is Earth.

Yes, that ether that thinkers assumed to pervade otherwise empty space right into the modern era:

In the 18th and 19th centuries, as physicists grappled with light, there was some debate over whether it was a wave or a particle. (Trick question—we now know it has properties of both.) Scientists thought that if light were a wave, then it needed a medium to travel through. Waves, after all, aren’t objects themselves, but the effects of movement on a substance like air or water. And so, once again minds turned toward aether.

Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens first proposed the “luminiferous” or light-bearing aether as a medium for the propagation of light. It was a popular theory. Nikola Tesla held onto it well into the 20th century, writing in 1938 that all attempts to explain the workings of the universe without recognizing the existence of a light-bearing aether are futile.

Yes, Nicholas Tesla said that.

But as scientists learned more about the true nature of light, the properties of aether became increasingly magical. To be consistent with the laws of physics, aether had to be fluid, so it could fill all space, but also solid enough to support light waves. It existed everywhere, yet was invisible, weightless, undetectable, and had no effect on physical objects—almost as if it didn’t exist at all. Meg Neal, “The Eternal Quest for Aether, the Cosmic Stuff That Never Was” at Popular Mechanics

As Neal goes on to note, while Einstein described the non-existence of ether as “very perplexing to physicists,” his relativity theory provided a simpler explanation: Light travels at a constant speed in a vacuum. In any event, his spacetime continuum, where everything is moving relative to everything else, became the new underlying concept, the new “ether.”

Doubtless, some protested, without ether, there would be nothing! But, as astronomer Hugh Ross explains, “nothing” has itself become a multi-layered concept in physics. That may make up in part, philosophically, for the loss of ether.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: What does “nothing” mean in physics? (Hugh Ross)

4 Replies to “Remembering ether, the substance that just had to be there

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    And the reason you mention Einstein but IGNORE The Mickelson-Morley Experiment, which is the ACTUAL disproof of Aether, is because… You just don’t like the guys?

    Their experiment was completed in 1887, a REALLY long time before Eisenstein wrote ANYTHING important. (Note that Einstein’s Nobel Prize was for describing the first workable photo-electric circuit.)

    What Michelson & Morley did NOT do was explain WHY light going “upstream” through space moved at EXACTLY the same speed as “crosswind” and “downstream”. I don’t think Einstein ever explained WHY either. He just said, “Its constant speed is a Law.” which suggests that The Speed of Light is controlled by a Lawgiver and NOT Physics.

  2. 2
    FourFaces says:

    Here’s my take on this for the record. Not only is there a substance that permeates space, there could be no motion at all without it. It does not resist motion but, rather, it is the cause of it. This substance, which I call a lattice, consists of photons and fills 4-D space. It is responsible for all electric, magnetic and gravitational phenomena.

  3. 3
    EricMH says:

    @Fourfaces are you saying the universe is like my computer monitor where each particle is really a ‘pixel’ flitting on and off giving the appearance of movement?

  4. 4
    FourFaces says:

    @Fourfaces are you saying the universe is like my computer monitor where each particle is really a ‘pixel’ flitting on and off giving the appearance of movement?

    Not at all. Space itself is abstract and does not exist. Only particles exist. Particles are like objects inside a video game program. The objects do not move. Only their positional properties change. The same is true of particles. The computer screen is comparable to our mind’s experience. Our concept of space/distance and of motion in said space is a creation of the mind.

    The point of my previous comment is that nothing changes (i.e., moves) unless it is caused to change. Not even inertial motion is acausal. This is why there is a need for a lattice. The interaction of matter with the lattice particles is what keeps everything moving.

    Some physicists are aware of this energy field. They call it the zero-point energy field. They just don’t know what its function is. Famed physicist Richard Feynman once said, “There is enough energy in the space of an empty cup to boil all the oceans of the world.”

Leave a Reply