An Alternative Thought  -- Curt Weinstein, 6 October 2015

Einstein formulated and defended the theory of light transmission known as Special Relativity (SR).  In SR, light in a vacuum travels at a constant speed, c, relative to everything – even naked space.  It turns out that there is much evidence supporting that theory.  I list and argue with the more famous evidence following.

Radioactive particles created in the upper atmosphere should not live long enough to reach the surface of the Earth but they do.  According to SR, the speed of these fast-moving radioactive particles slows time and shortens distance such that the particles, as measured from Earth, live long enough to reach Earth.  Although I have postulated the Relativistic Bernoulli Effect to explain the lack of interaction of the particle and its surround, thus giving the particle more life than it would otherwise have, I realized that merely renaming the phenomenon would be inadequate to explain the differences in effect from SR.  On the other hand, however, there does not seem to be that much evidence that the radioactive particles that reach Earth are created at the sufficient height to require SR.  Dr. Beckmann tells of the path of radio waves from the Earth, to the sky, and back to the Earth.  The speed of light and the time of transmission lets one calculate the effective height that the radio waves reach (before being bounced back to Earth).  It is all very cute, very tight, and quite wrong!  Dr. Beckmann explains that the radio waves bounce around in the upper atmosphere, never actually reaching the calculated effective height.  Likewise, I question whether the radioactive particles are created at the effective height to require SR before they strike Earth.  We do not know, I would argue, whether (1) the Relativistic Bernoulli Effect or (2) the generalization of Dr. Beckmann’s effective height or (3) Special Relativity is the correct reason for the radioactive particles hitting Earth. Ref: 1, 2.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a modern invention that uses SR to help an object (e.g., car or missile) find its targeted location.  Although the GPS uses SR to calculate location, apparently it does not need to use SR.  Ordinary Newtonian arithmetic is sufficient.  Ref. 3.

The angle that a star appears from Earth depends on the Earth’s speed around the Sun and the light from the star.  Direct vector addition explains the angle; SR explains the angle.  Occam’s Razor chooses direct vector addition.  Science is based on the simplest correct explanation (Occam’s Razor).  (Examine Stellar Aberration.) Ref 4.

Lights from a double star – one star approaching and one star receding – can be explained by SR and can be explained by something simpler (start thinking Occam’s Razor).  Because we observe the stars from the surface of the Earth, the speeds of the lights (even if they were ever different) would measure the same in our atmosphere (speed of light in air).  But even if the event were to be verified by the orbiting Hubble Telescope, might not the two lights (approaching and receding) pass through some intraspace gas and, thus, be made to travel at the same speed?  Where is this intraspace gas?  The stars, themselves, emit copious amounts of matter (which, sort of, meets the criteria of a gas).

Finally, I refer to the numerous experiments by one or both of Michelson and Morley (M&M).  I can dissuade you with two arguments.  First, that last paragraph (above) mentions the troubles gas might cause, and that seems to be true on Earth where M&M conducted their experiments.  Second, I present a more direct argument.  If there existed an aether that was not totally entrained to the Earth (a most reasonable assumption according to M&M and others), then the light would flow differently in different directions in this (hypothetical) aether (a wind of aether). 

I make a small digression to answer the question, “What’s an aether?”  Sound travels through air, and we identify the “aether” for sound to be air.  In analogy, light might have an aether, too.  At least, that is what M&M were testing in their experiments.  If there is a slight wind, the sound will travel faster with that wind than against that wind.  M&M’s aether is analogous to the wind in sound experiments.  The Earth was spinning on its axis, as it rotated around the Sun, as the Sun trekked through the Milky Way.  They thought that there is bound to be an aether wind somewhere, and they sought to find it.

To understand M&M’s experiments, I am going to make an analogy to an airplane flying in a wind.  The time it takes to fly a fixed distance and back across the wind (wind at right angle to airplane) takes ACROSS time.  The time it takes to fly the same round-trip fixed distance with a tail wind and a head wind takes WITH time.  For a (small) constant and nonzero wind speed, WITH is greater than ACROSS (basically it is time which decides the issue).  Of course, when the wind speed is zero, there is no difference.  M&M shot two paired lights looking for the difference between WITH and ACROSS.  Because they couldn’t see the aether, they repeated the experiment in many different directions.  In that manner, they thought they were bound to perform an experiment with the aether flowing past one light beam at right angles.  However, they always found that the two lights traveled at the same speed – WITH minus ACROSS was always zero.  There were three possible reasons for this result.  First, M&M never did test the lights at right angles to the aether; but this didn’t seem reasonable because they tested the pairs of lights at every conceivable direction on Earth.  Second, the aether was always still relative to the Earth.  This didn’t seem reasonable based on their hypothesis that the aether was found in space and the Earth took a convoluted path though space (by orbiting and spinning).  Third, there was no aether!  This seemed reasonable to Einstein (but not to Michelson of M&M!).  In fact, Einstein supported his Theory of Special Relativity upon evidence such as provided by the M&M’s experiments. 

Consider the second reason from above.  Many years later, Beckmann hypothesized that the aether was stuck to the Earth (he brought back a local entrained theory, similar to Stokes’).  Thus, Beckmann moved the aether from outer space to Earth (and whatever other bodies were available to the light).  Beckmann hypothesized that light in gravity was like sound in air.  That formulation makes sense, because gravity pervades outer space (at least around here).  Light travels though space, and space is strongly positively correlated with gravity.  Further, Foucault’s Pendulum, although driven by gravity, does not spin with the Earth’s gravity!  Thus, we wouldn’t also expect light necessarily to be influenced (e.g., to the right or left) with Earth’s spinning gravity.  Beckmann’s gravity hypothesis seems to fit.  Of course, what’s light got to do with gravity?  Certainly, an association between light and gravity needed to be investigated further for Beckmann’s model to gain wide acceptance.

 I had originally postulated the same result as Beckmann (but years after, having never heard of Dr. Beckmann’s hypothesis: “Light in gravity is like sound in air.”)  I could not, however, find a clean association between light and gravity.  Even Einstein’s hypothesis that light bends from a star’s gravity may be questioned because a star is nothing but a large lens (more invisible matter density here and less there, with a very bright spot centrally).  Nevertheless, I accepted Einstein’s treatment of the gravitational attraction of light.  Eventually, I remembered something I was told in high school physics – we cannot be sure of absolute voltages but only of relative voltages.  Sure, we can use the Earth as a ground of zero volts, but is it really zero?  Maybe it is five?  It wouldn’t change our physics.  Thus, I investigated the Bohr hydrogen atom and concluded that our (local) universe is mostly negatively charged!  (The electron is most-usually closer to some external point to the atom.  Further, because of the inverse-square law for electromagnetism, charge external to the atom tends to be negative.)  If so, then light had a substrate to travel through – the aether was electro-negativity.  I was not put off by positive electrical charge, although I questioned why light wasn’t stopped at a “true” zero potential.  I hypothesized that the negative and positive charges do not destroy one another but merely cancel the force put on a test charge.  If light traveled through a substrate of electrically negative charge, perhaps a change in phase would accompany the light as it traversed through a positively charged substrate?  Thus, I had hypothesized that electromagnetic energy (light) travels through electromagnetic fields (the external field of every atom around here).  Seems reasonable to me.

I would expect that light travels at the speed of light relative to its local substrate, and specifically not relative to anything and everything, as Dr. Albert Einstein had postulated about 100 years ago. 

What happens when a water wave runs out of water (tsunami)?  As the water environment gets shallower, the energy of the wave becomes concentrated in fewer water molecules (bigger wave).  When the wave runs out of water (hits the shore), it travels more like a thrown rock.  In analogy, maybe light travels as a rock when (if it could) it runs out of substrate?  How much substrate does the photon need to keep waving on?  An electron is small relative to a proton; a photon is small relative to an electron.  As I have entitled, this is An Alternative Thought.    


1. Beckmann, Petr. Einstein Plus Two  (1987) The Golem Press, Boulder, Colorado.

2.  https://sites.google.com/site/whateinsteindidnotdo/

3. Wang, Ruyong. Successful GPS Operations Contradict the Two Principles of Special Relativity and Imply a New Way for Inertial Navigation – Measuring Speed Directly.  Proceeding of the IAIN World Congress in association with the U.S. ION Annual Meeting, 26-28 June 2000, San Diego, CA.

4. http://relativelynot.weebly.com/luminiferous-aether.html