Does light actually travel in a medium called ether?

Thanks for the A2A

Almost every single physicist today will tell you that there is no such thing as an ether or aether that is required for light to travel through, and that it is as outmoded, obsolete idea.  A lot of people will claim that the Michelson-Morely disproved the existence of an ether.  I have read that the experiment was flawed, and was not any where near accurate enough to prove anything, but by thinking they had gotten rid of the idea of the ether, further advances in scientific thought became possible.  I believe that the best explanation about the existence of "aether" is Richard Muller's view that is well explained here: Richard Muller's answer to Why does sound need a medium like air or water in order to travel, but radio waves do not?

He is saying that what we now call the vacuum, can be considered to be what was formerly called "the aether."  It does seem to be the case that vacuum is no longer thought of as plain old empty space.  For a deeper understanding of this, you would need to study quantum physics.  I don't think a blanket "no" is sufficient.  If you look through Muller's answers he refers to this a number of times.  One of his answers discusses how it is possible for an electron to manifest as a wave and he refers to this concept in that one as well.


No, it doesn't. This was proven scientifically through the Michelson Morley experiment and Special relativity(in a way). I would focus on the Michelson Morley experiment, though. Basically, they assumed that the ether existed and predicted an ether wind.( relative of matter through the stationary ether). They then made predictions based on the assumption that the ether actually existed. They then tried to test these predictions, but what they found was that the phenomenon they observed went against their prediction. This meant that their assumption was wrong, and their assumption is that the ether exists.Michelson–Morley experiment


Yes and no, mostly no.

Yes, in that light isn't "spooky action at a distance" - there is detectable stuff involving electric and magnetic fields happening in the entire space between source and receiver, even when that space is a vacuum.

No, in that what sustains light in that vacuum does not appear to be composed of points or atoms or other entities with individual identities that are well-defined through time, such that it's meaningful to say that the light is traveling past the point/atom/whatever.

Now mind you, we often pretend the opposite for the sake of tradition and mathematical convenience: we take an inertially moving object and build a measurement frame around it, taking the position of the object to be x=0. But it's not as if all the events with "x=0" actually represent the history of a physically real point of space or particle of medium. Each event mates with its neighbors to spawn downstream events (within its Light cone) but none of those offspring is so privileged above any of the others as to be "the same place" in a fundamental sense. The idea of an inertial trajectory (as in Newton's First Law) is special - it amounts to a "straight line through history" - but there are lots of possible straight lines through every event, none more special than the others.

And against that background, the medium for light is history itself: each event can support a value of the Electromagnetic tensor - end of story.


No,it is a proven fact that light actually does not travel in any medium called ether.Before the advent of the relativity concept, it was believed that there was a medium called ether which surrounded us.But it meant that light would travel in ether at the c(3*10^8) and in other mediums it would travel at different speeds depending on the orientation and relative speed of that medium with respect to ether.But after Michelson and Morley performed their famous experiment, it was established that the speed of light in any medium would be the same and that there is no such absolute medium as ether.All the inertial reference frames are physically the same and obey the same physical laws.After this was established,it was obvious that there was no such medium as ether,the one previously considered to be an absolute one.


A2A

No it does not. Light is a wave such that it does not need any medium for propagation. Infact, when made to propagate through a medium, it ends up being hampered from further propagation by a bit.

This does not mean that aether is a false concept as some answers have pointed out. With the introduction of Quantum Mechanics, aether has been given a new look, and has now properties that previously weren't even thought of.

So while the thought that an electromagnetic wave needs a medium is completely false, the fact that an "aether" doesn't exist is also false.


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