25  Reconsidering the Ether                                         Table of Contents     Previous       Next

Note: I use the term ether to refer to the Michel-Morley concept. I use the term aether to refer to the background for light as developed in this website.


Michelson-Morley conceived of the ether as a uniform background substance that light moved with respect to (see diagram below). Assuming this type of ether, they performed an experiment which showed that this type ether did not exist. Michelson-Morley found by experiment that light moved at a measured speed c irrespective of any relative motion of the observer to their postulated ether. So, they concluded that no medium is needed to support the transport of light in “free” space. Note that the transport of light in “glass” was not considered as part of the experiment.

Was Michelson-Morley Wrong?
Michelson-Morley made an assumption about what the ether should look like (if it existed). They knew for certain that the ether needed to be a uniform background. It was natural to make this assumption because they “knew” that light was wave phenomena like water waves and sound waves had to have a uniform “ether” background. Water waves needed water and sound waves needed air, so of course light waves needed an ether....Duh!!!.

However, just because water waves and sound waves have a uniform background on which they move, does not mean that light needs a “uniform” background ether (see diagrams below).

Postulating an Aether of Gravitons:

I will postulate that light rides on gravitons. The background formed by these gravitons is as developed in section 17section 19 and section 24 of this website. This graviton aether is not uniform and is attached to the observer. More speculatively, at the end of this section, I will postulate that this graviton aether exists in substances like glass.

Below are two diagrams, the one on the left was the visualization of Michelson-Morley, the one on the right is a visualization of the aether considering gravitons as the carrier of light.

Is there a benefit to having gravitons as an aether?

In section 24 gravitons were postulated to be the elements that makes up space-time. A case was made that gravitons have mass taking the form of a long deBroglie wavelength that propagates at the speed of light c, thus making it a Compton wavelength (definitely not ordinary mass). This graviton is a quantum mechanical mass particle which I have associated with dark matter and dark energy.                   See section 17. I have a vague intuition that the graviton “particle” is neutrino. However, this detail of what is the graviton particle is not needed for the work done here. I just postulate the graviton particle as a Compton wavelength and develop how it can act as the background for light, and constitute both dark matter and dark energy.

I visualize a graviton as long rigid string which connects ordinary mass chunks (Planck masses). These rigid graviton strings can expand and contract and can be twisted CW and CCW. Einstein’s curvature of space-time is this morphing of gravitons translationally and rotationally. Gravitons morph whenever the masses they attach to accelerate or rotate. When morphing (accelerating), gravitons cannot support the full speed of light c.

I make one further speculation and that is that gravitons exist at both the astronomical and the bench-top level and also within material like glass.

With this rather simplistic model of the Aether we get:

1. Another viewpoint on the curving of space-time. Relativity is still valid, and we have another  
    way of explaining what the curvature of space-time means.

2. An explanation of dark matter and dark energy. See sections 17, 19, and 20.

3. An explanation of why the speed of light is c, independent of the observer’s velocity.
    This is because the observer is associated with a mass that is always associated with one end of
    the graviton bundle (shown in the diagram bottom right). Thus, the aether is attached to the

    Whenever an object changes its motion, there is acceleration (linear or rotary) that changes the
    space-time of the graviton. During acceleration the light on a given graviton cannot maintain the
    speed c.

     In the diagram lower right (Rotating Graviton Bundle) the Earth has an angular acceleration. This
     angular acceleration will slow the speed of light slightly below c. This slowing although small
     should be able to be measured with modern instruments. Note that the slowing of light with angular
     acceleration is known as the Sagnac effect.
     See: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1631070517300907

4. An explanation of the Sagnac experiment and how gyroscopes work in general.
    See section 18. Since most of the graviton connections to the observer are made to far away stars
    and galaxies, to a good approximation our motion is with respect to the “stars”. The observer in a
    sense is the center of the universe, because they are connected to every bit of it (Planck mass by
    Planck mass).

    I would phrase Mach’s principle as: We may start Foucault's pendulum locally, but the universe  
    cannot be removed from taking part in the game.

6. An understanding of light transport in glass and prisms (incompletely explained via QED).

    Usually the explanation of the slowing of light in glass is explained via quantum electro-dynamics
    (QED). I feel the QED explanation involving electrons are awkward because the wavelengths of
    light are much longer than the atomic dimensions of the glass. I believe instead that the slowing of
    light in glass is due to the change in the permeability and permitivity of the space-time within the
    glass. This change in the space-time characteristics corresponds to a change in the gravitons. It is
    this change in the gravitons that slows the speed of light in glass. Yes, this is another speculation
    made by your humble author :) This makes the slowing and bending of light both cosmologically
    and locally in prisms the same phenomena.

OK, This is interesting ...but doesn’t it mess up Einstein’s relativity?
The graviton aether presented here enhances relativity and gives insight to Mach’s principle.

The biggest problem with relativity is comprehending how light can have a velocity (in inertial frames of reference) that is “c” independent of relative speeds between observer and object. This question is answered with an aether that consists of gravitons. All the gravitons in the universe end up at the mass of the observer. This may sound mystical, but it is nothing but Newton’s law of gravity. When the observer changes motion all the gravitons in the universe may lengthen or shorten but all conduct light at the speed “c”.  This is an aether that moves with the observer mass.

OK, Is there any experiment that would show that an aether of gravitons makes sense?

I believe the experiment has already been performed by Georges Sagnac See:


Here is the abstract:

The French physicist Georges Sagnac is nowadays frequently cited by the engineers who work on devices such as ring-laser gyroscopes. These systems operate on the principle of the Sagnac effect. It is less known that Sagnac was a strong opponent to the theory of special relativity proposed by Albert Einstein. He set up his experiment to prove the existence of the ether discarded by the Einsteinian relativity. An accurate explanation of the phenomenon was provided by Paul Langevin in 1921.


It seems that there is a group of people that just cannot accept relativity. I am not one of them.

And I find it strange that the great scientist Georges Sagnac who made one of the worlds great discoveries which turned into the gyrocompass was a strong opponent of special relativity. I believe Sagnac showed that a type of ether was possible, but was incorrect in assuming that just because the observer was in an inertial frame of reference, it met Einstein’s criteria for special relativity.

Special relativity holds in inertial frames of references. This means that both the observer and the interferometer cannot be accelerating. Thus Sagnac’s experiment which rotates with large angular accelerations is not applicable for speciality relativity. So, how can it demolish Einstein’s special relativity?

For general relativity, accelerations of mass produce a change in the curvature of space-time. There is nothing about this that forbids an aether that can be considered space-time. And I particularly like my graviton based aether that connects to the observer as shown in the diagram above right.

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