Silberstein L. The recent Eclipse Results and Stokes-Planck's s AEther. // Phil. Mag. S. 6. Vol. 39. No. 230. Feb. 1920. — Page 164

Silberstein L. The recent Eclipse Results and Stokes-Planck's s AEther. // Phil. Mag. S. 6. Vol. 39. No. 230. Feb. 1920.

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164 Dr. L. Silberstein on the recent Eclipse Results

In other words, the discovery made at Brazil naturally suggests the idea that the observed deflexion is due to the condensation of the cether around the Sun*, and although one has been an implacable enemy of any ajther at all, for the* last fifteen years, one does not hesitate to poiut out this, possibility—a last glimpse of hope, perhaps, for the banished medium.

Let us imagine for the moment that Einstein had never published his debatable, though undoubtedly beautiful, new theory—not even that of 1905. Then it is almost certain, that the Eclipse result would readily be acclaimed evidence of the condensation of the aether near the Sun, as required by the theory of Stokes-Planck, and would encourage* the physicists to work out in detail the optical and associated! consequences of such a condensation. But even though Einstein's theory has been published, and is being made popular in a most sensational way, we cannot help clinging to the said idea. I just learn from 4 The Observatory ’ for August that Mr. Jonckheere suggested some months ago that refractions may, inter alias, be caused by “a hypothetical condensation of ether near the Sun.” My point, however,, is that such a source of refraction acquires a particular interest if it is treated in connexion with the half-forgotten theory of Stokes-Planck, when it ceases to be a detached hypothesis.

It is in this sense and in such an organic connexion that I should like to draw attention to this aspect of the subject.

Of course, the quantitative details of the suitable modification of the optical, or the electromagnetic, properties of the cether due to a radially symmetrical or any other condensation have to be worked out carefully. It is not the purpose of this Note to give a complete investigation of this kind, but only some hints at its possibility. Such hints, together with some remarks on the possible advantages of the advocated theory, will occupy our attention in the following sections.

4. If, merely to fix theideas, the Boyle law is still adhered to, the condensationoutside a radially symmetrical

gravitating mass is given, as in (1), by

Jf we assume, for places near the Earth’s surface, not more and not less than what is just needed for the theory of

* The logarithm of this condensation would amount, at the Sun’s surface, bv (1) and (E), to the enormous figure a — log s = 81100.. (f the following footnote.

and Stokes- Planck9s JEther.


aberration, i. e. <r= log5= 10*2, we shall have at the surface of the Sun, as already mentioned ina footnote,

which means, no doubt, an enormous condensation *. The corresponding relative velocity ot* slipping v/vw will, by (2), be almost evanescent; the drag will be almost complete.

On the other hand, at the surface of a hydrogen atom, assumed for the moment to be a homogeneous sphere (and the only existing body), we shall have log 5=1*7 . 10“34, that as to say,

indistinguishable from unity. Notice that for small cr the denominator in (2) reduces to Jo*3 + 4- higher terms, so that the relative slip becomes

For such bodies, therefore, as a hydrogen atom, or in fact any other atom, the ratio in question will be exceedingly nearly equal its limiting value 3/2, wThich is well known to be the maximum relative slipping for a sphere moving in an incompressible liquid. In short, for such small bodies there will be practically no drag at all. The more so for electrons, if one wished to attribute to them gravitational properties. This behaviour will be important in connexion writh some such eleptrodynamic theories of ponderable media, as is that proposed by Lorentz, which require a complete slip. But •even a sphere of the mass of 1. kg. and the radius of 10 cm., for which a—109 .10_16, will practically have no “ grip upon the aether.” This will readily be seen to account, among •other things, for the negative results of Sir Oliver Lodge’s ingenious experiments with the Ether machine, even if its whirling part were made much more massive. As a mere curiosity notice that even the Moon would have only a partial, weak grip upon our rehabilitated aether. In fact, at the Moon’s surface we should have= 10*2 x 0*094 = 0*96, and

therefore, by (2),which differs only by 0*35 from

the full slip. Thusthe Selenites would obtain with a

* Such fantastically large condensations need not frighten us. They can be reduced if Hoyle’s law is replaced by some other appropriate form of relation between pressure and density. Boyle’s law, which is by no means necessary, is here used only, as the simplest one, for the sake of illustration.