Earth and the Ether - A Crisis in Physics

Earth and the Ether - A Crisis in Physics
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Earth, Ether, Light
Review the famous Michelson-Morley experiment, which was designed to detect the motion of Earth relative to a conjectured ether wind that supposedly pervaded all of space. The failure to detect any such motion revealed a deep-seated contradiction at the heart of physics.
Heaven and Earth, Place and Motion
Understanding motion is the key to understanding space and time. Is there a "natural" state of motion? Learn why the ancients gave different answers to this question, and how Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo laid the foundation for a new approach.
Mathematics in Crisis
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The most secure science, mathematics, hit the rocks of uncertainty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Trace the shocking discoveries of non-Euclidean geometries, Cantor's paradoxes of infinite sets, and the incompleteness theorem of Kurt Godel. See how Alice in Wonderland sheds intriguing light on this new view of reality.
Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution - Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition
"It doesn't take an Einstein to understand modern physics," says Professor Wolfson at the outset of these twenty-four lectures on what may be the most important subjects in the universe: relativity and quantum physics. Both have reputations for complexity. But the basic ideas behind them are, in fact, simple and…
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The Clockwork Universe
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Let There Be Light!
The study of motion is not all there is to physics. By the 18th century, scientists were delving into the relationship between the two phenomena. Today, electromagnetism is known to be responsible for the chemical interactions of atoms and molecules and all of modern electronic technology.
Speed is Relative to What?
In mechanics (the branch of physics that studies motion), the principle of Galilean relativity holds - meaning that the laws of mechanics are the same for anything in uniform motion. Is the same true for the laws of electromagnetism?
Einstein to the Rescue
In 1905 a young Swiss patent clerk named Albert Einstein resolved the crisis that flowed from the Michelson-Morley result. When Einstein discarded the ether concept and asserted that the principle of relativity holds for all of physics, mechanics as well as electromagnetism, he was making a simple claim with almost…
Uncommon Sense - Stretching Time
Why does the simple statement of relativity - that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion - lead directly to absurd-seeming situations that violate our commonsense notions of space and time?
Muons and Time-Traveling Twins
As a dramatic example of what relativity implies, you will consider a thought experiment involving a pair of twins, one of whom goes on a journey to the stars and returns to Earth younger than her sister!
Escaping Contradiction - Simultaneity Is Relative
If, as relativity implies, "moving clocks run slow," who's to say which clock is moving?