Background: We recall the starlight experiment of Dominique Arago, and one of his presuppositions; namely that the space between the Sun and the Earth is not empty but rather filled with a rarified material substance called aether, through which medium light travels. The existence and the presence of aether in the universe was conceded by all the scientists of the time, it being a very ancient principle of natural philosophy. Aether was held to be omnipresent in the universe, and, as we see in Fresnel's hypothesis, impenetrating all matter. Indeed Fresnel's equation explicitly sought to measure the drag motion of the aether trapped inside a telescope's magnifying glass.
Newton's theory of gravitation posited that matter possesses an inherent quality of attraction, making possible what he referred to as "action at a distance." Thus the Sun, having great mass, attracts the Earth and the planets; and, in virtue of their opposite gravitational attractions creating a stasis of sorts, their orbits of rotation around the Sun (or the center of mass for the whole system) result. But how does this "action at a distance" actually happen? The experiments of Arago, Fresnel, Fizeau, and Airy were attempts to prove the heliocentric thesis using observations and measurements demonstrating the presence and effects of aether on bodies presumed to be in motion; the common supposition being that the gravitational force of these bodies acted through the aether medium.
Description of Interferometer: Enter Albert Michelson, who invented the interferometer, a highly sensitive instrument capable of measuring the interference patterns of intersecting beams of light. The interferometer uses a beamsplitter and mirrors to separate one beam of light into two arms at right angles to one another. The beams are sent through air along numerous perpendicular paths - their intersection producing an interference pattern hypothetically capable of detecting the motion of the Earth.
Description of Experimental Procedure: One light beam is directed toward the west, the direction believed to be that of the Earth’s movement around the Sun. Perpendicularity would require the other beam to be directed north to the pole. The west-directed light beam, presumed to be heading right into the aether at 66,000 mph (the supposed speed of the Earth around the Sun) was expected to encounter resistance (interference) from the aether. The light beam going north was expected to experience very little or no aether resistance because it would not encounter Fresnel's "opposite-direction aether drag." Thus it was hypothesized that the faster moving north-directed light beam would return to the detection plate before the slower-moving west-directed beam. Whether the light was constituted of particles or waves, the north-directed beam would be ahead of the west-directed beam by a wide enough margin that the difference would mean the Earth was revolving around the Sun.
Experimental Results: Michelson's hypothesis was falsified: The west-directed beam arrived at the detector at essentially the same time as the north-directed beam. Rather than a wide margin in speed of return to the detection plate, only a miniscule difference was measured in the interference fringe. The wave displacement (distance between the light waves) needed to prove the Earth's motion was 0.4; but the highest displacement recorded was 0.02, a mere 5% of the magic number. In order to prove the motion of the Earth, Michelson required a wave displacement 95% greater than what he got. As in Arago's, Fizeau's, and Airy's experiments, observable, repeatable, measurable physical evidence clearly indicated a stationary Earth. In 1881, Michelson reported his findings in the American Journal of Science, stating that "this conclusion directly contradicts the explanation…which presupposes that the Earth moves.”
Subsequent Retesting: Michelson determined to build a more sensitive interferometer; and, in his experimental protocols, he took extreme precautions against any outside disturbances that may have affected the results of the first experiment. He consulted with Hendrik Lorentz and Lord Kelvin, and took on Edward Morley as his partner. Alexander Graham Bell financed this project. The new experiment took place in 1887, and the results were even more devastating for heliocentrists: no calculable displacement was measured. They had not a shred of evidence that the Earth is in motion.
Implications of the Results: No one could fault Michelson's experimental protocols, as his hypothesis was developed using meticulous calculations based on the undisputed properties of light waves. Unable to reconcile his own results, Michelson sought the assistance of the top physicists in the world. In response, Hendrik Lorentz investigated both the 1881 and 1887 experiments. He wrote to Lord Rayleigh in 1892, and expressed his exasperation over Michelson’s experiment: "Fresnel’s hypothesis . . . would serve admirably to account for all the observed phenomena, were it not for the interferential experiment of Mr. Michelson which has, as you know, been repeated . . . and which seems decidedly to contradict Fresnel's view. I am totally at a loss how to solve the contradiction . . . if Fresnel’s wave theory is abandoned we should have no adequate aberration theory at all . . ."
Lorentz's admission that Fresnel’s drag theory cannot be used to explain the Michelson-Morley experiment simultaneously weakens Fresnel's credibility in attempting to interpret Arago's results, since Fresnel's equation is entirely hypothetical and supported by not a shred of empirical evidence. Many physicists have commented on the negative results of Michelson's experiment. Scene VI contains a sampling of astonishing quotes which admit the clear implications of the evidence.
Lorentz's Attempt to Save Heliocentrism: This crisis for heliocentrism caused Lorentz to posit a new theory. He supposed that a material body somehow changes as it travels through space and against the aether; and he found in Irish physicist, George Fitzgerald, a scientist who co-opined that the length of a body depends on how it is moving through the ether. Fitzgerald hypothesized that the light beams returned at what amounted to the same time because the pressure of the aether actually shortened the west-directed arm of the interferometer. It must be noted that prior to this "contraction hypothesis," aether was understood to be a perfect fluid that produced no pressure or friction against matter. The theorized contraction or shortening of the west-pointing arm, would shorten the distance of the slower moving light beam, thus making up for the difference in speed, and allowing for both beams to return to the detector at the same time. This heliocentrism-saving hypothesis was claimed to be demonstrated by a mathematical equation invented by Lorentz. The upshot is that 1) a moving object will have an old length and a new length, the new length invariably shorter by the equation's proposed ratio; and 2) the faster the object moves, the shorter the new length will become. Thus Lorentz's equation can be employed to change or “transform” the results of any experiment designed to test the motion of the Earth. His equation is, however, entirely theoretical; it has never been physically demonstrated to be true - no “contraction of matter having ever been demonstrated or measured.
Raison d'etre for the Theory of Special Relativity: Albert Einstein was yet another Copernican determined to introduce a scientific explanation for the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment that would save the heliocentric thesis - another Copernican unwilling to follow the evidence where it actually led. He admitted as much in 1924: “Soon I came to the conclusion that our idea about the motion of the Earth with respect to the ether is incorrect, if we admit Michelson’s null result as a fact. This was the first path which led me to the special theory of relativity. Since then I have come to believe that the motion of the Earth cannot be detected by any optical experiment, though the Earth is revolving around the sun.” Einstein would not allow for the possibility of an immobile Earth. He would retain the heliocentric thesis, and simply dispense with proof.
Because all previous experiments failed to detect the motion of the Earth through the aether, Einstein was forced to choose between three possible scenarios: (1) the Earth is not moving through the aether; or (2) the Earth is moving and carrying the aether with it; or (3) the aether does not exist and the Earth is moving through empty space. Choice 1 was unthinkable to Einstein and his colleagues, because they were unwilling to posit an explanation for the Michelson experiment that demonstrated a motionless Earth. Yet the solution offered by Fitzgerald and Lorentz was no more than a contradiction; for it held simultaneously that the aether is a perfect fluid with no friction; and that the aether exerts enough pressure on matter to contract it.
A Novel Approach: Einstein's mind turned to the problem of getting rid of the smoking gun. If he simply eliminated the aether, he would eliminate the contradiction and the alarming implications of the growing body of empirical evidence. But doing away with the aether meant doing away with the concept of fixed or absolute space, and, consequently, the nullification of much of the established principles of physics, based as they are on the certitude that the aether, or "light medium," actually exists. In Einstein's mediumless universe, all motion is relative. Celestial bodies move with respect to one another but not with respect to a fixed or absolute space. In this universe there is no immobile center of mass about which everything revolves; there can be no body at rest. Einstein's universe - acentric, in omni-motion, without an absolute frame of reference, and devoid of the indispensable light medium - is a virtual construct of enshrined disorder. Einstein is, in essence, a progenitor of chaos.
Nothing is Solved: Einstein's nagging problem was one of cold, hard, reality: Each and every time, Michelson's perpendicular light beams arrived back at the detection plate simultaneously. How could this be if the Earth is moving through empty, frictionless, aetherless space? Furthermore, if all bodies move, and nothing is at rest, then detection of absolute motion is impossible; for a fixed frame of reference is necessary for such measurement. If all motion is relative and there is no fixed frame of reference, whether the Earth revolves around the Sun or the Sun and stars revolve around the Earth, cannot be determined. Indeed Einstein and many other prominent physicists have admitted as much. The only absolute in the theory of relativity is its categorical incapacity to prove the heliocentric thesis.
Specifics in the Einsteinian Novelty: Einstein posited an aetherless model of the universe; thus he could not rely on the Lorentz-Fitzgerald "aether causes moving bodies to contract" theory. Nevertheless he did maintain that the west-directed arm of Michelson’s interferometer had contracted, and that this contraction made it impossible to detect the movement of the Earth. In keeping with the overarching theme of enshrined disorder, Einstein attributed the phenomenon of contraction, not to aether pressure, but to some mysterious principle of nature. Coining the term "coordinate system," Einstein offered to the physics establishment an explanation for his proposition: "contraction without aether." He needed this contraction of quantitative extension to serve as his measuring stick (or principle of fixity), by which to distinguish between motion and non-motion, in a universe where all motion is relative and where no bodies are at rest.
By Einstein's own admission, a coordinate system does not conform to anything real. He said, "there is no such thing as a ‘specially favoured’ co-ordinate system . . . the contraction of moving bodies follows from the . . . theory, without the introduction of particular hypotheses . . . the prime factor involved in this contraction is not the motion in itself, to which we cannot attach any meaning, but the motion with respect to the body of reference chosen in the particular case in point. Thus for a co-ordinate system moving with the earth the mirror system of Michelson and Morley is not shortened, but it is shortened for a co-ordinate system which is at rest relatively to the sun."
Essentially Einstein is hoisted by his own petard: In order to contradict the reasonable inferences to be drawn from Michelson's and others' experiments, he a) constructs a universe without an absolute reference frame, wherein it is impossible to detect absolute motion; and b) dreams up a purely imaginary device he calls "relative coordinate system," to serve as the fixed reference frame he just eliminated. This is a violation of the Law of Contradiction, one of the First Principles of Reason: A thing cannot be and not be at the same time. Intending to contradict physical evidence, Einstein contradicts himself. In his entire career, he never offered a direct scientific cause for the presumed contraction; he only returned again and again to the mantra that it is a consequence of “relative motion.”