(Roughly) Daily

Immovable Object vs. Unstoppable Force…

What happens when an immovable object encounters an unstoppable force?  MinutePhysics explains…

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As we acclimate ourselves to anticlimax, we might send ethereal birthday greetings to Edward Williams Morley; he was born on this date in 1838.  A chemist by training, Morley is best remembered for his collaboration with physicist Albert Michelson at (what is now) Case Western Reserve University, where both taught.  They attempted to detect the relative motion of matter through the stationary luminiferous aether (“aether wind”– the medium required, scientists then believed, for the transmission of light).  On their first attempt, they found nothing; they tried again, with more sensitive equipment, and again found nothing.

The Michelson-Morley Experiment, as it’s now known, has been called both the most famous and the most important failed experiment of all time: because the aether couldn’t be detected, scientists had to contemplate the possibility that it didn’t exist…  thus, the Michelson-Morley Experiment kicked off the Second Scientific Revolution– initiating the line of research that eventually led to special relativity (in which a stationary aether concept has no role).

[Here’s a candidate for the “experiment with surprising results” that might herald the Third Scientific Revolution…]


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 29, 2013 at 1:01 am

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