Repetition of the Michelson Morley Experiment in Nature, Volume 123, 1929, pp. 88 [REPETITION OF THE FAMED 1887 MICHELSON-MORLEY EXPERIMENT]

London: Harrison & Sons, 1929. 1st Edition. BOUND FIRST EDITION OF MICHELSON’S 1929 REPETITION OF THE FAMED 1887 MICHELSON-MORLEY EXPERIMENT, here “undertaken with the view of making a more accurate test than had hitherto been obtained” (Michelson, Nature Vol. 123, 1929, p. 88). “After Dayton Miller announced in 1926 that he had found positive evidence of ether drift, Michelson repeated [this] refined version of his old experiment, but again found no shift of the fringes and Miller’s results came to be regarded as erroneous” (Heilbron, The Oxford Guide to the History of Physics, Volume 10, 217). The paper presents reports The paper presents reports “on [Michelson’s] three attempts to produce ether-drift fringe shifts, using light-beam interferometry similar to that originally employed in the [1887] experiments” (Orgone Biophysical Research Lab).

Working in 1887 at Case Western University, Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley compared the speed of light in perpendicular directions, in an attempt to detect the relative motion of matter through the stationary luminiferous aether ("aether wind"). The negative results are generally considered to be the first strong evidence against the then-prevalent aether theory, and initiated a line of research that eventually led to special relativity, in which the stationary aether concept has no role. The experiment has been referred to as "the moving-off point for the theoretical aspects of the Second Scientific Revolution" (Wikipedia).

As said, like many physicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, Michelson remained convinced that aether did in fact exist. In the late 1920s, collaborating with fellow scientists Francis G. Pease and Fred Pearson, and with the investment of many in the scientific community who felt the same, Michelson built an apparatus that was used to successfully detect “an ether-drift of some unspecified quantity just under 20 km/sec. at Mt. Wilson... This positive result was inappropriately dismissed as a "negative" result because the experimenters had prematurely discarded the conceptual implications of an Earth-entrained ether. This experiment used the largest light-beam interferometer ever constructed by Michelson, with a 52-meter round-trip light path, coming close to the sensitivity found in Miller's 64-meter interferometer” (Orgone).

Michelson’s 1929 experiment seems “to have been conducted at the suggestion of others who willingly raised the funds for what eventually became the most expensive experiments Michelson ever conducted. The cost was nearly $20,000 for the apparatus alone. He never did detect an interference pattern but like many physicists of late nineteenth century he remained convinced that the ether did indeed exist” (Hamerla, An American Scientist on the Research Frontier, 150).

ALSO IN THIS VOLUME: Ernest Rutherford’s “Origin of Actinium and Age of the Earth” (pp. 313-314). It is the first edition of the most accurate estimate of the age of the earth to that time & “the first age determination based on isotope ratios” (Magill, Radioactivity Radionuclides Radiation, 111). Additionally, Rutherford’s paper “may be the first paper on astronomy with radioactivity” (Diehl, Astronomy with Radioactivities, 38). Item #563

CONDITION & DETAILS: London: Harrison & Sons. Complete volume. 4to. 10.5 by 7.5 inches (263 x 188mm). [4], lxi, [1], 1004, [2]. Ex-libris with two stamps on the title page and no exterior markings whatsoever. In-text illustrations throughout. Handsomely rebound in half calf , gilt-lettered at the spine; tightly and very solidly bound. Five gilt-ruled raised bands at the spine; each compartment gilt tooled. Bright and clean throughout. Near fine condition in every way.

Price: $525.00