(also spelled ether) is a philosophic and scientific concept denoting the existence of a fine substance (ponderable or imponderable) underlying the entirety of natural reality.
Brief History of the Concept of the Aether
Aether in Greek mythology is probably first mentioned by Hesiod as a
figure of the Highest or Superior Heaven. 'Higher' than it, only its
'mother' Nix ("The Night") and its 'father' Erebus ("The Dark"). So,
Aether is issued from the dark, the dark of the night and the dark of the
cosmos; 'his' sister is Hemera ("The Day"). In Higinius' fables, Aether is
the 'son' of Chaos, Chaos being uncreated and having a meaning different
than the later Parminedean meaning of the vacuum or nothingness - a
meaning that is best translated by the dark, the empty of 'Day', where no
Light or Sun abides. It is Chaos that precedes everything, but it is from
the Aether that Heavens, Earth and Sea arise - Aether being also the
'father' of the Titans, the Erinias (later the Roman Furies) that inhabit
'hells' (not Hades), Pan - and, according to Cicero, Jupiter in the Roman
Pre-Socratic Orphism (Clement of Alexandria, Macrobius, etc) displaced the
relationship - as an evocation of Akhnaton's solar monotheism - by
replacing Chaos with Helios, as identified with Dionysus (who became the
master of Aether and Hades). Helios is surrounded on all sides by Aether,
and orphism only recognized one god - Helios-Dionysus. Eusebius later
amalgamates this god to Zeus.
Birth of the Philosophic Concept
To this swirl of mythological and nonphilosophical discussions of origins,
Anaxagoras of Clazomena (~5th century BC) counterposed two principles -
Chaos and Nous - for two types of substances, Air and Aether. Chaos was
the principle of permanent motion (and for Anaxagoras all motion was
vortical), and Nous the principle of the imponderable - of 'order', 'ratio', knowledge,
plasticity, creation and consistency. Nous was also the power of the
lightest substance, and thus the principle of Levity or Celeritas. As
Aether was also the lighest of substances, Nous was its principle. All
matter was made up of Aether and Air, and created by virtue of the Nous.
Nous will later be distorted to become the basis of the philosophical
concept of Reason in post-Socratic philosophy.
Aristotle treated the Aether as the finest of substances that filled up space -- a fifth 'element' alongside Air, Water, Fire and Earth -- on the principle that nature abhorred a vacuum or nothingness. The Aether thus became known as "Quintessence".
Birth of the Scientific Concept
The birth of the scientific concept of the Aether can be traced to
Renaissance thought - in particular to the one-all substance of Spinoza,
Descartes' notion of a vortical occupation of space, and Leibniz's monist
theory of monads. These different systematic thoughts share the concept of an imponderable substance that animates all physical reality, and are precursors to modern theories of a
dynamic Aether. Robert Fludd suggested that the Aether was ''subtler than light'', and cites the 3rd century views of Plotinus on the ubiquitous and non-material properties of this subtle substance.
Stationary Luminiferous (Classical) Aether
Conversely, the notion of a static Aether, a mechanical, jelly-like Aether, finds its classical origins in Newton. In 19th century physics, the positing of a luminiferous aether was used to reconcile Maxwell's electromagnetic theory and Newtonian mechanics. This inaugurated the brief age of the Classical Aether embraced by Young, Maxwell, Kelvin, Lodge, Lorentz, etc.
"Ether or aether (aiqhr probably from αιθω, I burn), a material substance
of a more subtle kind than visible bodies, supposed to exist in those
parts of space which are apparently empty" - so began the article on the
"Ether" written by J.C. Maxwell for Encyclopedia Britannica, and O.
Lodge's book against Relativity, entitled "The Ether of Space".
The above definition encapsulates a mistake that is common to a whole epoch of classical and semi-classical modern physics: the idea that the Aether is subtler than matter, but is still a material, ponderable medium with 'invisible'electromagnetic properties. The Aether came to designate a stationary substance of space that transmitted light and permitted measurement of the motion of material bodies by the drag which they supposedly caused. Since light exhibited wave properties, the waves had to travel in a "signal-carrying medium" (just as waves of sound or waves in water require a molecular medium). However, the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment forced (from 1887 onwards) the demise of all Classic Static Aether models. Classical theories of the Aether that yesteryear were dominant (the old cannon of Official Science) have retained a certain currency to this day (they are very popular in the fringes of physics), particularly in their Aether-drag variants (eg. Dayton Miller). Lorentz's mathematical transformations and invariance - later adopted by Relativity to the exclusion of an Aether - were enunciated so as to preserve the stationary
The Death of the Classical Aether and the rise of the Field Concept
The failure to detect the motion of the Earth through the Aether called the classical concept of the Aether into question, and it was for the first time formally dispensed with in Albert Einstein's theory of Special Relativity. The demise of the classical Aether was equally due to the rise of the field concept - from Faraday, through Maxwell to Einstein and Quantum-Dynamics. Space now becomes treated as a given, and as being permeated by fields present and propagating even in the vacuum devoid of ordinary matter. The fields may be electromagnetic, gravitational or supermassive, and more recently have been belabored as a "quantum foam", a "space-foam", a Zero-Point Field (ZPF) or the Dark Energy of the missing Higgs particles.
Modern Aether Theories
The modern scientific development of Aether theories points, instead, in a different direction with respect to both dark and subtle properties of the Aether - it points towards the concept of a massfree energy medium that has 'a- photic' or nonelectromagnetic properties. The Aether's 'subtlety' results from its massfree or noninertial property, and the 'invisibility' from its nonphotonic or dark nature. This rejoins Anaxagoras when he wrestled the original concept of the Aether from Greek mythology.
Gravitational Aether (Einstein)
In the 1910-1925 period, A. Einstein
proposed an interpretation of his General Relativity that took recourse to
an Aether of Space, a Gravitational Aether, responsible for the production
of space and gravity as physical effects: "Most careful reflection teaches
us, however, that the special theory of relativity does not compel us to
deny the aether. We may assume the existence of an aether; only (...) we
must by abstraction take from it the last mechanical characteristic which
Lorenz had still left it (...), namely, its immobility. (...) To deny the
aether is ultimately to assume that empty space has no physical qualities
whatever. (...) Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general
theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this
sense, therefore, there exists an aether" (A. Einstein, "Aether &
Relativity", 1920). Einstein later abandoned this approach.
However, it should be noted that Einstein's concept of a Gravitational Aether has all the fundamental properties of a Dynamic Aether: it is nonelectromagnetic or aphotic (ie it is dark); it endows space with physical properties, and is nonmechanical, ie. in a constant state of motion.
The "New Aether" (ZPE/mCBR)
In 1913, A. Einstein and O. Stern first proposed the
notion of a cosmic heat bath whose function corresponded to their concept
of a Zero Point Energy (ZPE) filling up space. Though this early concept of the ZPE was
rejected, the 1967 discovery of a microwave cosmic background radiation
(mCBR) led to a reformulation of the ZPE hypothesis by stochastic (T.
Boyer) and quantum models (H. Puthof, B. Haisch). Modern ZPE theories
have in common the notion that the "vacuum state" is an electromagnetic
field (ZPF) present even near absolute zero temperature, the ZPF being
homogeneous, isotropic and subject to Lorentz invariance.
This is a hybrid concept in all of its forms. First of all, Einstein and Stern did not see their concept of a cosmic heat bath as being equivalent to that of an Aether. It really was an electromagnetic field that occupied space. Secondly, modern theories that interpret the mCBR as the ZPF are equally restricted and thus unable to account for how the mCBR is actually produced by the Aether, let alone for the physical properties of Space or gravitational fields. Obviously, the terminal objection that can be raised against these theories is that they fail to treat Space as a property of the 'New Aether".
The Dynamic Aether Theories
All theories of a dynamic Aether accept the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, the lack of Aether drag, and explain that null result by the properties of a massless or massfree Aether.
N. Tesla's Theory of Longitudinal Electric Aether Radiation
The first attempt at a theory of the dynamic Aether was Nikola Tesla's hypothesis that propagation of electric signals was distinct from the generation of electromagnetic signals, and made the latter possible. Tesla envisioned an electrical Aether having incompressible and radiative properties. He presented experimental evidence for this physical reality in his studies on the wireless transmission of power and the resonant states of the longitudinal electric radiation that has become known as Tesla Radiation, but failed to provide a physico-mathematical model of this radiation. Tesla's theory was subsequently and illegitimately co-opted to the dominant version of electromagnetic field theory, as if Tesla's contributions were part and parcel of Maxwell's and Hertz's theory of electromagnetism.
Orgonomy/Orgonometry: Dr. W. Reich's Theory of Orgone Energy
The second attempt at a theory of a dynamic Aether was Wilhelm Reich's theory of orgone energy (1940- 1957). Reich's approach lay the foundations for a (micro)functionalist treatment of
physico-mathematical quantities and processes, but failed to generate a
consistent method capable of successfully distinguishing gravitational and
electromagnetic interactions and properties, from 'orgonotic' and massfree
interactions or properties. Reich's exclusive assimilation of massfree
properties to 'orgone energy' prevented him from realizing the difference
between electric and nonelectric manifestations of the Aether as a primary
form of massfree energy. This left his followers mired in the premature
identification of Aether with orgone. Moreover, only late in his investigation did Reich begin to realize that what he called Orgone energy was no different from what Tesla thought was the "aether electric radiation". The theory of the orgone remained prisoner of these shortcomings, and the premature death or murder of W. Reich damned its continuation and consistent development.
The Quon/Hadronic Aether of Dr. H. Aspden
The first cogent and comprehensive model of a dynamic Aether
was proposed by Harold Aspden as far back as 1958. Aspden's model of a dynamic
Aether invokes the existence of a near-balanced continuum of cosmological
charge populated by 'Aether particles', the quons, that are capable of
condensing ordinary electron-positron pairs and are not subject to the
constraints of Relativity (hence, are massless-like). Aspden's theory has
also been called a model of the hadronic Aether because the proposed
Aether lattices also contain positively charged mu-mesons and massive
gravitons and supergravitons.
Since 1999, Dr. Paulo Correa and Alexandra Correa have proposed an immanentist-monist model of an imponderable dynamic
Aether. This model defines the Aether as primary massfree energy (Dark Massfree Energy)
in electric (ambipolar) and nonelectric (latent heat) forms. Massfree energy
also exists in secondary (eg gravitons, kinetons) and tertiary (eg
photons) forms affected by matter, and no theory of a dynamic Aether can
be complete without accounting for these massfree energy forms, or without
providing a model for the creation of mass-energy from Aether energy
processes. Experimentally, the Correas have demonstrated the existence of
Reich's orgone and dorgone energies, and quantitatively identified them as
contiguous subspectra of ambipolar (electric) massfree energy. One of the fundamental characteristics of aetherometric theory is that light waves are not waves that transmit light, anymore than waves need to ride or require a medium. It is the medium or media that are already composed of waves, already undulatory; and what transmits the stimulus of light is not light or electromagnetic waves, but precisely the Tesla radiation (or Orgone), the ambipolar radiation through its longitudinal waves. Aetherometry clarifies therefore the relationship between transmission of the light stimulus and a local generation of all blackbody photons that was once suggested by Einstein himself. Light waves are local and solidary with the photon particles, in full agreement with classical Quantum-Mechanics, and without need to resort to relativistic transformations.
- Robert Fludd, "Mosaical Philosophy". London, Humphrey Moseley, 1659. Pg 221
- Nicholson, O. "Tesla's self-sustaining electrical generator", The historical ether. Proceedings of the Tesla Centenial Symposium, 1984
- Michelson, A (1881) "The relative motion of the earth and the luminiferous ether", Am J Sci, August:5
- Michelson, A & Morley, E (1887) "On the relative motion of the earth and the luminiferous aether", Am J Sci, 34:333
- Lorentz, H (1909) "Michelson's Interference Experiment", in Einstein, A et al (1909) "The principle of relativity", Dover Books, NY, NY
- Einstein, A (1920) "Ether and Relativity", in "Sidelights on Relativity", Methuen & Co., London, UK, 1922
- Einstein, A & Infeld, L (1938) "The Evolution of Physics", Simon & Schuster, NY, NY
- Whittaker, E (1953) "A history of the theories of aether & electricity", Vol. 2, Dover Publications, NY, NY
- Boyer, TH (1969) "Derivation of the blackbody radiation spectrum without quantum assumptions", Phys Rev 182:1374
- Boyer TH (1975) "Random electrodynamics: the theory of classical electrodynamics with classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation", Phys Rev D, 11:790
- Muller, RA (1978) "The cosmic background radiation and the new aether drift", Sci Am, May:64
- Aspden, H (1980) "Physics Unified", Sabberton Publications, Southampton, England, p. 59.
- Aspden, H (1981) "Laser interfereometry experiments on light-speed anisotropy", Phys Lett, 85A:411.
- Puthoff HE (1989) "Source of vacuum electromagnetic zero-point energy", Phys Rev A 40:4857.
- Cole, DC & Puthoff, HE (1993) "Extracting energy and heat from the vacuum", Pys Rev E, 2:1562.
- Correa, P & Correa, A (2003) "Experimental Aetherometry, Vol. I", Akronos Publishing, University of Toronto Press, Concord, Canada.
- Correa, P & Correa, A (2003) "Experimental Aetherometry, Vol. IIA", Akronos Publishing, University of Toronto Press, Concord, Canada.
- Correa, P & Correa, A (2003) "Experimental Aetherometry, Vol. IIB", Akronos Publishing, University of Toronto Press, Concord, Canada
There is an abundance of noncritical theories of the Aether. Some are enunciated by followers of N. Tesla that failed to realize how Tesla's view of the electric Aether was not compatible with the classical stationary Aether; others are enunciated by followers of W. Reich who tried to marry the latter's theory of orgone with Miller's neoclassical theory of Aether drag (eg J. DeMeo; for a critique, see http://aetherometry.com/miller.html
), and have erroneously claimed the resulting hybrid as a model of the dynamic Aether; others, still, take recourse to outright plagiarism of Aetherometry without any real understanding of the functionalist microphysics and thus with a consequent plethora of errors and delusions (see http://www.quantumaetherdynamics.com/aether.html
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