THEORY OF RELATIVITY (SPECIAL & GENERAL), AND THEORIES OF "ETHER" - PROS AND CONS. FOREWORD
Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.
Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law
The Scientist must set in order. Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.
Henri Poincaré, ch. IX Hypotheses in Physics
The science is what cannot exist. And what can exist is simply technical progress.
(Наука - это то, чего не может быть. А то, что может быть, ‑ это технический прогресс.)
P.L. Kapitsa (П.Л.Капица)
You think that I am looking back to my work with a calm satisfaction. But having a closer look at it, is is absolutely not the case. There is no conception, which I would be absolutely convinced about, and I am even not convinced that I am on the right path.
The proposed set of articles about this issue is clearly a starting point for discussion.
But there are several fundamental reasons, why the analysis of such publications remains necessary:
1. The permanent critical audit of the previously formed scientific understanding, about any aspect of nature, is normal "instinct” of “scientific self-preservation". It protects against any long-lived scientific errors and it is always an incentive to search for a deeper understanding of the laws of nature.
2. Theoretical and experimental audit of various scientific theories bring if not direct, indirect benefits because their analysis anyway improves various aspects of understanding these theories for new generations of scientists.
3. Ignoring this need for analysis of various theoretical and for experimental revisions causes either skipping errors in the relevant theories, or overgrowth of fallacies due to various errors in the critical analysis.
Traditionally, the most discussed theme in physics is the "theory of relativity" (STR and GTR). Despite plenty of evidence of the fairness of those theories, over recent decades the intensity of attempts of their revision, both experimentally and theoretically, has grown exponentially. It is worth noting that since the emergence of STR and GTR, their ideas have been in fact continuously exposed to various experimental checks by the serious "scientific mainstream".
Various satellites have even been launched for this purpose ("Gravity Probe B", LAGEOS, LARES). It shows that, indeed, there are still “controversial questions” remaining.
It is worth noting that the most active critics proved to be non-profile, non professional scientists, and searches in “alternative science”. And also that Russia leads the current of critics to the STR and GTR (if measured in number of criticizing scientists divided by the total population). This fact can be “measured” by the number of corresponding websites (discussions, web conferences, forums, etc…).
Most of those critics are characterized by a low level of scientific, rigorous content. Another part can be called “hysteric propaganda”, like the “etherodynamics” of V.A. Atsyukovsky.
However, interesting experiments and results have been also obtained, along with theoretical attempts of revision of the STR and GTR’s ideas. And to our opinion, it is worth studying this part, for instance the results of the quite recent experiments of Yu.M. Galarv and H.A. Munera, who found indications / evidence of an “aether wind”, as well as of its speed changes within the day. These results coincide with the ones obtained earlier by Dayton C. Miller.
However, those results do not confirm the ideas of enthusiastic supporters of “aetherodynamics” : this data, having passed careful checks, does not confirm the existence of a “gaseous aether” enveloping our planet, nor the planet’s influence of the speed of this “aether’ s flows’. But they have the merit to confirm once again the existence of a so-called “cosmophysical effect”, still remaining unexplained, which influences several physical processes, in accordance with the research of S.E. Schnol and of several other scientists. They have all demonstrated evidence of daily and other longer cycles, in the evolution patterns of various parameters in physical processes. These results obviously represent an interest for science, and call for more serious and complex research.
It is worth noting that the observed cosmological factors in these experiments may prove to have various nature and essence. For instance, V.V. Petrov suggested that the observed indications of existence of an “aether wind” are subject to daily and longer variation cycles of the local Earth’s geomagnetism.
We emphasize on the fact that it is very difficult to organize quality and reliable experiments to check the ideas of the STR and GTR. Usually, the effects in these experiments are very small and require high-precision measurements. When such high precision is reached, the experimenters begin to struggle with numerous interferences. The problems become even greater for experiments outside special confinements or without a special electromagnetic shielding (as it was the case for all the experiments dedicated to prove the existence of an “aether wind”). The search for errors or reasons behind abnormal results can take years, even for well-organized experiments. Most of surprising results are the consequence of external factors which were not properly taken into account, and which impact the equipment or the physical medium crossed by the measured signals.
Hence, until now, none of the enthusiasts of “alternative science” has real, objective proofs which could be used to discard STR and GTR. Declarations by them about the contrary are indeed attempts to “transform wishes into reality”. However, we do not exclude, for instance, the development of a new, better theory, a modified GTR.
The aether theories are historically linked with discussions about the STR, because they envision the possible existence of a structured physical medium, which enables the propagation of light. But it is likely that this medium will get a separate, independent status : several observations have been accumulated, which suggest that the physical vacuum has a “hidden physical structure”. This “structure” is not compulsorily the one supporting the propagation of light (it can be a medium which enables the propagation of other kind of oscillating processes), and can be formed not by usual physical particles, but by “quasi-virtual” particles (their existence and properties are determined by processes in some additional physical metrics). The study of various models of such medium and of physical processes taking place there is of great interest, and would potentially lead to a new fundamental physical theory. This direction is very actual and present great perspectives for science.
Any constructive critic of the publications in the present section of our website is of course welcome, and we invite you to use our forum.