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?On the Relative Motion of the Earth and of the Luminiferous Aether.? In American Journal of Science,Third Series, Vol. 34, 1887, pp. 333-345. WITH: MICHELSON, Albert A. ?On the Relative Motion of the Earth and of the Luminiferous Aether.? In American J
MICHELSON, Albert A. and Morley, Edward A. ?On the Relative Motion of the Earth and of the Luminiferous Aether.? In American Journal of Science,Third Series, Vol. 34, 1887, pp. 333-345. WITH: MICHELSON, Albert A. ?On the Relative Motion of the Earth and of the Luminiferous Aether.? In American Journal of Science, Third Series,Vol. 22, 1881, pp. 120 ? 129. WITH: ?Influence of Motion on the Medium on the Velocity of Light.? In American Journal of Science, Vol. 31, 1886, pp.377-386. Rare first editions, first printings of work hailed both as the greatest failed experiment of all time AND as ?one of the greatest achievements in physics of all time? (Lightman, 130). A complete, three volume grouping of American Journal of Science volumes housing the entirety of Michelson & Morley?s landmark series of experiments. ?What Michelson and Morley did... was undermine a longstanding belief in something called the luminiferous ether; a stable, invisible, weightless, frictionless... medium that was thought to permeate the universe. Conceived by Descartes, embraced by Newton, and venerated by nearly everyone ever since, the ether held a position of absolute centrality in nineteenth-century physics as a way of explaining how light traveled across the emptiness of space (Bryson, 117). Prevailing theories held that ether formed an absolute reference with respect to which the rest of the universe was stationary and that ether was a medium for the propagation of light (as water waves must have a medium to move across (water). Given the speed of light, designing an experiment to detect the presence of ether and its drift, or hypothetical motion relative to earth, was challenging. To do so, Michelson designed an interferometer ? essentially a massive stone block with mirrors and crisscrossing light beams ? capable of measuring the velocity of light with great precision. ?A slightly silvered glass set angular to a ray of sunlight so that a part of the ray was transmitted, a part reflected out and again returned, [thus] providing two paths, one perpendicular to the other. If drift existed, the super-imposed rays would produce interference? (Dibner, 161). The device enabled Michelson and Morley to measure the speed of light in different directions, enabling them, in theory, to measure the speed (or drift) of the ether relative to Earth, thus establishing its existence. Michelson and Morley expected to see their light beams shifted by the swift motion of the earth in space, thus giving measure to different speeds of light in each direction, but ?none was observed, showing that the earth?s motion did not affect the light?s speed? (ibid). ?The failure of this experiment was a serious blow to classical scientific theories because it cast doubts on the existence of the universal ether which had been a basic principle of, for example, the Newtonian theories of the universe? (PMM, 401). The result discredited the ether theories ?and opened the door to ?new standards of reference of time and space from geometry and cosmometry,? ultimately leading to Einstein?s 1905 proposal that the speed of light is a universal constant? (Dibner, 161; Lightman, 130). The history of science records the 1887 ether-drift experiment of Albert Michelson and Edward Morley as the turning point at which the energetic ?ether of space? was discarded by mainstream physics, thereafter replaced with the postulate of "empty space.? The 1881 paper represented Michelson?s first attempt to measure the presence of the ether; the 1886 experiment repeated (and confirmed) Fizeau's test of Fresnel?s and Stokes? ether theories; and the seminal 1887 experiment showed no sign of an ether drift, proving that the velocity of light is the same in all directions on the surface of the earth. With this Michelson and Morley sounded the death knell of classical physics? beautifully simple belief in the idea of ether. CONDITION: 3 Volume Octavo. EXTERIOR: Modern rebinding in aged black calf over marbled paper boards; 4 raised bands at the spines; gilt-tooled and lettered. Very slight rubbing at the edge tips. Tightly bound. 3 vol. in black slipcase. INTERIOR: Complete. Title pages in masterful aged reproduction with originals also present. Near fine.
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Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    

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