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Part 1: The Dynamic Ether of Cosmic Space Correcting a Major Error in Modern Science

Written by James DeMeo, PhD

This is Part One summarizing James DeMeo’s new book indicating that modern cosmology erred in hastily dismissing the evidence for a cosmic ether. Part Two is here.

“I believe that I have really found the relationship between gravitation and electricity, assuming that the Miller experiments are based on a fundamental error. Otherwise, the whole relativity theory collapses like a house of cards.”

— Albert Einstein, letter to Robert Millikan June 1921

By conventional physics, we are informed in every textbook that the cosmic ether of space is an archaic theory once widely held, but was discarded after Michelson-Morley failed to detect it in 1887, with their new optical interferometer device.  We are instructed, they obtained only a “null” or “zero” result.  Nearly every student and professor today knows this, and repeats it as gospel.

But is this narrative true?

No, it is not, and an unbiased review of the original published papers on the subject of cosmic ether exposes this untruth, and how the astrophysical “emperors” wear no clothes. 

Michelson-Morley did in fact detect a small but significant ether-drift velocity, as clearly stated in their original 1887 publication.  They wrote:

“…the displacement [of interference fringes] to be expected was 0.4 fringe.  The actual displacement was certainly less than a twentieth part of this [0.02 fringe], and probably less than a fourtieth part [0.01 fringe].  …the relative velocity of the earth and ether is probably less than one-sixth the earth’s orbital velocity, and certainly less than one-fourth”. (Michelson-Morley, Am. J. Sci. No.203, Vol.XXXIV Nov.1887, p.341. Brackets added)

With the Earth’s orbital velocity at around 30 km/sec, that one-sixth or one-fourth fraction, of what was “to be expected”, would place the measured ether-drift maximum at something approaching, or between a ~5 to ~7.5 km/sec velocity.

That velocity was low by the standards of the static-ether theory of Newton, which anticipated up to several hundred km/sec for both Earth’s orbital and the solar system’s combined motions within a presumed static-ether galaxy.

Such a ~5 to ~7.5 km/sec maximum velocity, however, was agreeable with a material and partially Earth-entrained and slowed-down cosmic ether, which dynamically moves with the Earth, close to the velocity of the Earth itself. The effect is somewhat similar to how water flowing inside a pipe has a frictionally-reduced velocity close to the interior surface of the pipe. Or how a ball (“Earth”) floating on a river, or caught in a whirlpool, is carried along at the same velocity as the water.

Repeat the Michelson-Morley Experiment in Interplanetary ...

Michelson-Morley also considered that their measurements might have occurred at a seasonal period when the relative velocities between the Earth and ether were at a very low ebb. And so they stated:

“…only the orbital motion of the earth is considered.  If this is combined with the motion of the solar system, concerning which but little is known with certainty, the result would have to be modified; and it is just possible that the resultant velocity at the time of the observations was small though the chances are much against it.  The experiment will therefore be repeated at intervals of three months, and thus all uncertainty will be avoided”. (Michelson-Morley, Am. J. Sci. No.203, Vol.XXXIV Nov.1887, p.341. Emphasis added)

Being aware of the earlier Fresnel-Stokes debate about a partially versus fully entrained ether, or ether-drag effect, they also stated:

“…it is not impossible that at even moderate distances above the level of the sea, at the top of an isolated mountain peak, for instance, the relative motion might be perceptible in an apparatus like that used in these experiments. Perhaps if the experiment should ever be tried in these circumstances, the cover should be of glass, or should be removed.” (Michelson-Morley, Am. J. Sci. 1887, p.341. Emphasis added)

Here, Michelson-Morley referenced the fact that their experiment took place at the low elevation of 199 meters, within the heavy stone-brick basement of Pierce Hall at Case School of Applied Science (later Case-Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio.  Their apparatus was also shielded (for presumed thermal stability) under a heavy wood cover.

As history shows, such basement-locations and wood or metal shielding plagued nearly all the subsequent ether-drift experiments which claimed, often inaccurately, a “negative null” result.  Many of these efforts were much like trying to measure the speed of the wind with an anemometer from inside a building where only a few windows are open.

Their statements about undertaking the experiment at a higher altitude on a mountain peak, and with a glass cover, was an admission the cosmic ether might not be static in the Newtonian sense, but might be material, matter-interactive and Earth-entrained, moving more slowly at lower altitudes.

Unfortunately, the Michelson-Morley team never undertook any further experiments to address the question of ether-entrainment. Also important, the amount of data collected by them in 1887 was quite small, only six hours of data collection over four days, on July 8, 9, 11 and 12 of 1887, with a grand total of 36 turns of their interferometer. The Michelson-Morley interferometer (image below) also had a relatively short 22-meter light path which, in addition to all else, guaranteed only a lower (but never “null” or “zero”) measured result.

myphotonics Michelson-Interferometer (Justage) - YouTube

image source: youtube.com

The 1887 experimental result was only preliminary in nature, and hardly what one expects as the foundation for such a major pivotal turning point in the history of science. Michelson-Morley knew this, as otherwise, why write so clearly on the necessity of repeating the experiment at other seasons, at higher altitudes, and with glass covers?

A few luminaries of their day, such as Oliver Lodge and Lord Rayleigh, both members of the Royal Society, also voiced agreement with Michelson-Morley on that point. (DeMeo, Dynamic Ether 2019, p.57-60)

“Michelson’s results can hardly be regarded as weighing heavily in the scale. It is much to be wished that the experiments should be repeated with such improvements as experience suggests. In observations spread over a year, the effects, if any, due to earth’s motion in its orbit, and to that of the solar system through space, would be separated. (Rayleigh, “Aberration” Nature, 24 March 1892, p.499)

Their result of ~5 to ~7.5 km/sec was nevertheless sound, and later critically reviewed and recalculated by Dayton Miller, a Princeton physics graduate and associate of Morley, yielding a revised ether-drift velocity of ~8.4 km/sec. Miller’s recalculated velocity was in close agreement with the ~9.3 to ~11.2 km/sec seasonally dependent ether velocity he would independently document some 30 years later, with over 6000 individual turns of an even more sensitive optical interferometer of 64 meters light-path, using a more robust experimental protocol.

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At the urging of Lord Kelvin (pictured above) in 1900, Morley and Miller once more took up the question of the ether drift. Following several years of initial experiments from 1902 to 1905, with nearly a thousand turns of their new 64 meter interferometer, the low but positive ether velocity of Michelson-Morley was generally confirmed.

Years later, with an invitation from astronomer George Hale and funding from the Carnegie Foundation, Miller resumed work on the ether question.  He firstly refined, insulated and upgraded the 64 meter interferometer previously used by Morley-Miller, and in 1921 moved it to the 1750 meter high altitude of Mount Wilson Observatory.

The interferometer was operated inside a small insulated hut with open windows and glass covers at the level of the light path. Over 1000 turns of the interferometer were undertaken by Miller in April and December of 1921, with a consistent result of ~10 km/sec ether velocity. More ambitiously, four seasonal epochs of measuring were run at Mount Wilson between 1924-1925, with nearly 4000 turns of the interferometer, yielding an ether-drift signal of light-speed variations between ~9.3 and ~11.2 km/sec.

This was a more systematically obtained result than anyone had made, previously or since, and with a clear determination of the Earth’s net motion through the galaxy. (Approx. RA 16.9 hrs, Dec. +70.5˚)  (DeMeo 2019 p.102)  Miller’s work was extensive on these questions, presented in 8 different experimental publications with Morley from 1898 to 1907, and in 15 different papers published independently between 1922 to 1934, all of which are reviewed and summarized in my Dynamic Ether book.

How could all this exceptionally good evidence for a measured ether drift and variation in light-speed, yielding the same sidereal cosmic direction irrespective of season or time of day or night, be so easily swept aside and ignored by modern scientists and historians?

Almost immediately after publication, the Michelson-Morley 1887 results were inaccurately heralded in most every scientific publication and newspaper of those days as a “null” or “zero” result, ignoring what they actually had written. A host of speculations were thereafter stimulated, as to why the ether “could not be detected”…

“in spite of the fact that it had been detected. The velocity measurements of ~5 to ~7.5 km/sec maximum are equal to around 18,000 to 27,000 km per hour, a speed which is a considerable percentage of the escape velocity of space rockets (~11 km/sec), as needed to reach full Earth orbit. That itself is quite a fantastic speed, an order of magnitude greater than the Earth’s speed of axial rotation, and about 20% of the Earth’s orbital speed around the Sun.”

Using Miller’s revised analysis for the Michelson-Morley data of 8.4 km/sec, it works out to be an even greater velocity, over 30,000 km per hour.  And Miller’s Mount Wilson results were even better, of ~9.3 to ~11.2 km/sec, with thousands of turns of a larger and greatly improved interferometer.

The velocity detected by Michelson-Morley, and later  by Miller, was never “null” or inconsequential. 

How was it, that the six hours of data collection on four days in 1887 were misinterpreted and misreported as “null”, and then considered sufficiently robust for the majority of scientists – particularly the physics Mandarins in Europe – to push for and embrace the subsequent radical shifts towards “empty space” theory which dominated the 20th and 21st Century conceptions of the universe?

If Michelson-Morley was deemed “robust” for a false negative conclusion, then why was Miller’s even better and more significant positive conclusion dismissed as “not robust”?  Why is his work nearly erased from the history of science, and rarely mentioned today?

Miller was no “outsider” to science.  He became Chair of the Case School Physics Department, and eventually leader of the American Physical Society and American Acoustical Society.  He published in all the top journals, such as Nature and Science, and was invited to give lectures before the Royal Society, and the National Academy of Science, the latter of which he was invited to join.

He was brilliant, and was never successfully challenged when alive. However, he was subjected to ad-hoc attacks for claimed but never documented “thermal artifacts” supposedly causing the systematic, multi-seasonal cosmic vectors in his interferometer measures.

None could explain why Miller’s data pointed to a specific direction in the cosmos when organized by sidereal hour, a cosmic solution that vanished when his same data was organized by civil clock time.  That factor, all by itself, was a solid proof of the validity of his findings, and the absence of any diurnally-governed thermal variation.

After his death in 1941, an extremely biased post-mortem of Miller’s work was undertaken by a team of Einstein’s supporters, published in 1954.  My own critical review of that post-mortem, firstly presented to resounding silence at a AAAS conference in 1996, is now included as a chapter in my Dynamic Ether book (“The Shankland et al. Hatchet Job on Miller” p.213-225).

The Shankland, et al. “study” lacked any kind of scientifically defendable, systematic or coherent analysis, merely cherry picking from Miller’s hundreds of data sheets, often from control and testing experiments undertaken at Case School, and speculating how this or that factor might also have produced a given result.

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Their conclusions neither addressed nor refuted the sidereal pattern imbedded within Miller’s Mount Wilson data. Overall it was, as I say, a typical academic “hatchet job” to remove a persisting major obstacle to full acceptance of Einstein’s relativity theory.

The history of science reveals a basic struggle over this entire period, between the American experimentalists (Michelson, Morley, Miller) versus the European theoreticians (FitzGerald, Lorentz, Einstein).

The dominantly European theoreticians eventually won the popularity contest, with help from fawning international newspapers giving Einstein a supportive media blitz.  This was a hollow victory, however, accomplished through a never-ending biased erasure and misrepresentation of all evidence favoring the cosmic ether.  I will add more detail to the story, and the implications for astrophysics, with new discoveries, in Part 2 of this article.

The above discussions summarize or are extracted from chapters of my new book, The Dynamic Ether of Cosmic Space: Correcting a Major Error in Modern Science, with over 100 historic photos and graphical illustrations, full index and 16 pages of citations.

This work reflects my own ~40 years of investigation into questions on cosmic ether drift, the nature of space, and other findings in astronomy, chemistry and biology, which all speak to the issue of just what exists within the vacuum of so-called “empty space”. It is developed for the educated layperson and student, with minimal maths, but most scientific professionals will find it eye-opening and refreshing, speaking of things they also were never taught in the universities.

The book is available internationally from Natural Energy Works http://www.naturalenergyworks.net  or from any of the major on-line booksellers such as Amazon ($29.95) or Barnes & Nobel.  A downloadable pdf Preview of the book, with the Table of Contents and Index is also found at this same weblink.

Read more in PART TWO

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Comments (7)

  • Avatar

    Ken Hughes


    Yes, “absence of evidence” does mean “evidence of absence”. These rigid minded scientists know this very well, but have allowed the uneducated to perpetuate the myth that there is no Aether. Just because the M.M experiment was a “null” result does not disprove the existence of the Aether.


    • Avatar

      James DeMeo


      Hmmm. I think you meant to say “absence of evidence” does NOT mean “evidence of absence”? But in the case of the MM experiment, they did get a positive indication for ether-drift, which is the point of my article and book. The historical misrepresentation was that a “null” result was obtained, which never was the case. Cheers, J.D.


  • Avatar

    Ken Hughes


    The low value detected of Aether drift in the M.M experiment may well have been due to the combination of the earth’s rotation about its own axis, the rotation of the Earth around the Sun, the rotation of the Solar system about the galactic centre and the movement of the galaxy itself through intergalactic space.
    Some aspects of this complex motion may well act to REDUCE the Earth’s speed through the Aether while the Earths orbital speed acts in opposition. To what extant needs detailed analysis of course. But as far as I am aware, these aspects were never explored in the analysis of the M.M. results


    • Avatar

      James DeMeo


      The ether drift experiments with an interferometer can only measure the local velocity of the ether, much as if you were out in the ocean on a drifting boat, you could not measure the larger ocean gyres or motions, only what existed at the edge of your boat. Seeing the shoreline race by quickly, it would infer that your local pool of water was in a larger motion, but it could not be detected by optical interferometry. What you propose is congruent with some kind of Newtonian static ether, and it would show a very high ether velocity… but that was never detected. Miller’s work was far better than that of MM, and then there are other evidences from both the early-mid 20th Century, and into the 21st. Cheers, JD


  • Avatar

    Ken Hughes


    In my considered opinion, after much logical analysis and deliberations, the Aether is the field of energy that we experience as time! It is an oscillating field of energy. It has to be, since only motion through a sine wave can produce inertial time dilation in accordance with Lorentz. This known effect is scientific PROOF of the wavelike nature of this field.


    • Avatar

      James DeMeo


      Interesting, but Lorentz’ contraction theory, or the FitzGerald-Lorentz theory, is only necessary if one assumes a true null or zero on all the ether-drift experiments. And that isn’t the case. I read your paper on aberration and it is excellent good work, but as I understand your argument, it postulates an aether composed of multiple (or infinite) wave actions overlapping in a somewhat chaotic manner (as from all the stars and other EM sources). But wave theory demands a medium of transmission. And so it seems a circular reasoning. The waves are a different thing from the medium in which they are transmitted, just as water waves and sound waves are different from the water and air which allows their transmission. I believe we must return back to the original ideas of the ether-drift experimenters, and accept the factual nature of what MM detected and wrote about, and which I quote above, as well as the exceptional work of Miller, which also gained a solid positve result. All the theory-making since the false interpretations of MM, and the erasure of Miller, simply cannot be true. Even Einstein was alarmed about Miller’s result, knowing how it would cause his relativity theory to “collapse like a house of cards”, as I quoted. Lorentz’ theory of contraction was also simply wrong and unnecessary. Cheers, JD


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    If space, as Einstein says, is devoid of energy, how does it bend that it curves in the absence of energy? It is as if we were studying fish, ignoring the water from which they emerged. Even a child understands the absurdity of giving birth to the Universe from nothing without energy.


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