Morley E.W., Miller D.C. Report of an Experiment to Detect the FitzGerald-Lorentz Effect // Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts Sci., Vol. 41 (1905)

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Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Vol. XLI. No. 12. — August,1905.


By Edward W. Morley and Dayton C. Miller.

With Two Plates.

Investigations on Light and Heat made or published, wholly or in part, with Appropriations from the Rumford Fund.



By Edward W. Morley and Dayton C. Miller.

Presented May 10, 1905. Received May 19, 1905.

A null result was obtained in 1887,* in an experiment to detect, if possible, a difference of velocity of light in different directions owing to the motion of the apparatus towards or away from waves of light in the stationary ether. FitzGerald and Lorentz then suggested that the dimensions of the apparatus might be modified by its motion through the ether. If this modification depend on the resilience or other physical properties of the materials, it may perhaps be detected by experiment.

We have constructed two apparatus with which to examine this question. In the first, we replaced the sandstone used in 1887 by a structure of white pine. A strong cross was built up of planks, fourteen inches wide and two inches thick, and fourteen feet long. One was laid east and west, then one across it north and south, and so on. They were slightly notched where they crossed. On their intersection was secured a cast-iron bedplate for certain optical parts of the apparatus. At the ends, after filling the spaces between the planks, were bolted iron supports for our mirrors. The whole was placed on a round float, which in turn rested in a basin of mercury.

Our sixteen mirrors were each four inches in diameter. The mirrors rested each ou the points of three adjusting screws, against which they were held by springs. Ou the bedplate at the intersection of the arms of the cross were placed a plane half-silvered mirror and a compensating plate ; these had been, as is usual, cut from the same plane-parallel disk.

Figure 1 is a diagram, not to scale, of the optical arrangements. Light from a source S reaches the mirror D. Part is transmitted, reaching the mirror II. It is successively reflected to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. From 8 it returns by the same path to D, where part is reflected

* On the Relative Motion of the Earth and the Luminiferous Ether. A. A. Michelson and E. W. Morley. Am. Jour. Sci., 34, 333.

VOL. XLI.—21