CONFERENCE ON MICHELSON-MORLEY EXPERIMENT 355
Observations were begun in March, 1921, using the apparatus and methods employed by Morley and Miller in 1904, 1905, and 1906, with certain modifications and developments in details. The very first observation gave a positive effect such as would be produced by a real ether drift, corresponding to a relative motion of the earth and ether of about 10 km/sec. But-before announcing such a result it seemed necessary to study every possible cause which might produce a displacement of fringes similar to that caused by ether drift; among the causes suggested were magnétostriction and radiant heat. In order to test the latter, the metal parts of the interferometer were completely covered with cork about one inch thick, and fifty sets of observations were made showing a periodic displacement of the fringes, as in the first observations, thus showing that radiant heat is not the cause of the observed effect.
In the summer of 1921 the steel frame of the interferometer was dismounted and a base of one piece of concrete, reinforced with brass, was cast in place on the mercury float. All the metal parts were made of aluminum or brass; thus the entire apparatus was free from magnetic effects and the possible effects due to heat were much reduced. In December, 1921, forty-two sets of observations were made with the non-magnetic interferometer. These show a positive effect as of an ether drift, which is entirely consistent with the observations of April, 1921. Many variations of incidental conditions were tried at this epoch. Observations were made with rotations of the interferometer clockwise and counter-clockwise, with a rapid rotation and a very slow rotation, with the interferometer extremely out of level, due to the loading of the float on one side. Many variations of procedure in observing and recording were tried. The results of the observations were not affected by any of these changes.
The entire apparatus was returned to the laboratory in Cleveland. During the years 1922 and 1923 many trials were made under various conditions which could be controlled and with many modifications of the arrangements of parts in the apparatus. An arrangement of prisms and mirrors was made so that the source of light could be placed outside of the observing-room, and a further complication of mirrors was tried for observing the fringes from a stationary telescope. Methods of photographic registration by
DAYTON C. MILLER
means of a motion-picture camera were tried. Various sources of light were employed, including sunlight and the electric arc. Finally an arrangement was perfected for making observations with an astronomical telescope having an objective of five inches aperture and a magnification of fifty diameters. The source of light adopted was a large acetylene lamp of the kind commonly used for automobile headlights. An extended series of experiments was made to determine the influence of inequality of temperature and of radiant heat, and various insulating covers were'provided for the base of the interferometer and for the light-path. These experiments proved that under the conditions of actual observation the periodic displacement could not possibly be produced by temperature effects. An extended investigation in the laboratory demonstrated that the full-period effect mentioned in the preliminary report of the Mount Wilson observations is a necessary geometrical consequence of the adjustment of mirrors when fringes of finite width are used and that the effect vanishes only for fringes of infinite width, as is presumed in the simple theory of the experiment. .
In July, 1924, the interferometer was taken again to Mount Wilson and mounted on a new site where the temperature conditions were more favorable than those of 1921. The interferometer house was also mounted with a different orientation. Again the observations showed a real periodic displacement of the fringes, as in all the observations previously made at Mount Wilson and at Cleveland.
In spite of long-continued efforts, it was impossible to account for these effects as being due to terrestrial causes or to experimental errors. Very extended calculations were made in the effort to reconcile the observed effects with the accepted theories of the ether and of the presumed motions of the earth in space. The observations were repeated at certain epochs to test, one after another, the hypotheses which were suggested. At the end of the year 1924, when a solution seemed impossible, a complete calculation of the then-expected effects, for each month of the year, was made for the first time. This indicated that the effect should be a maximum about April i, and further, that the direction of the effect should, in the course of the twenty-four hours of the day, rotate completely around the horizon. Observations were made for verifying these predictions