G.Stokes. On Fresnel's Theory of the Aberration of Light. // Phil. Mag., Vol. 28 (1846)

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section with the refracting surface travels along A B with the

Fig. 2.

Velocity cosecObserving thatis the

velocity of the aether within the refracting medium, and

the velocity of propagation of light, we shall find in a similar manner that the lines of intersection of the refracting surface with the reflected and refracted waves travel along A B with velocities

But since the incident, reflected and refracted waves intersect the refracting surface in the same line, we must have

Draw H S perpendicular to A H, S T parallel to N A, take ST:HS::q:V, and join H T. Then H T is the direction of the incident ray; and denoting the angles of incidence, reflexion and refraction by φ, φ1, φ', we have

resolved part of q along




On substituting these values in equations (A), and observing that in the terms multiplied by q we may put φ1 = φ, μ sin φ' = sin φ, the small terms destroy each other, and we have sin φ1 = sin φ, sin φ' = sin φ. Hence the laws of reflexion and refraction at the surface of a refracting medium will not be affected by the motion of the aether.

In the preceding investigation it has been supposed that the refraction is out of vacuum into a refracting medium. But the result is the same in the general case of refraction out of one medium into another, and reflexion at the common surface. For all the preceding reasoning applies to this case

if we merely substitutefor p, q, V/ μ' for V, and for μ,

μ' being the refractive index of the first medium. Of course refraction out of a medium into vacuum is included as a particular case.

It follows from the theory just explained, that the light coming from any star will behave in all cases of reflexion and ordinary refraction precisely as it would if the star were situated in the place which it appears to occupy in consequence of aberration, and the earth were at rest. It is, of course, immaterial whether the star is observed with an ordinary telescope, or with a telescope having its tube filled with fluid. It follows also that terrestrial objects are referred to their true places. AD these results would follow immediately from the theory of aberration which I proposed in the July number of this Magazine; nor have I been able to obtain any result, admitting of being compared with experiment, which would be different according to which theory we adopted. This affords a curious instance of two totally different theories running parallel to each other in the explanation of phaenomena, I do not suppose that many would be disposed to maintain Fresnel's theory, when it is shown that it may be dispensed with, inasmuch as we would not be disposed to believe, without good evidence, that the aether moved quite freely through the solid mass of the earth. Still it would have been satisfactory, if it had been possible, to have put the two theories to the test of some decisive experiment.