Presented by: 
Prof. Simon Manley
Date: 
Tue 18 Oct, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Venue: 
Physiology Lecture Theatre (Building 63) Room 358

The Michelson-Morley experiment is famous as the most important failure in the history of science. At the time when Maxwell's equations were pointing to a constant speed of light and a deep inconsistency with the physics of Galileo and Newton, most physicists still adhered firmly to the idea of a Luminiferous AEther which would define a preferred frame of reference. Optical interferometers were applied to the task of detecting the drift of the earth against that preferred frame. Although modern textbooks describe the results as "null", at the time the data were not immediately regarded as definitive. The optics of the machines were dreadful, and the mechanics so prone to vibration and thermal drift that it was hard to conclude anything at all from the results. Refinement of the machines proceeded laboriously, over the decades until the 1930s. By this time, the data were unambiguous and the simplicity of the Einstein formulation of Relativity without need for a Luminiferous A!

 Ether had convinced mainstream physics. In the spirit of Tools of Science, the presenter will show results from a Relativity test, based on electronics rather than optics, which reproduces many of the characteristics of the old interferometers and sets a limit on anisotropy of the Coulomb Constant down around 10 to the negative 11 power.