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Volume 23: Pages 248-257, 2010

An alternative light path analysis in Michelson’s interferometer experiment

Ioan Has 1,2,3, Simona Miclaus 1,2,3, Aurelian Has 1,2,3

1Land Forces Academy Sibiu, St. Rapsodiei No. 6B, bl. Sof 1, sc.B, ap.9, 240240 Rm. Valcea, Romania

2Land Forces Academy Sibiu, St. Revolutiei No. 3-5, 550170 Sibiu, Romania

3University “C. Brancoveanu”, St. N. Balcescu No. 39, 240200 Rm. Valcea, Romania

Classical hypotheses and the theoretical basis of Michelson’s interferometer experiment are reanalyzed in this paper. Initially, the reanalysis in the paper of the illustrative model of the interferometer, represented by a boat traversing a river reveals that the correct transversal trajectory is not an isosceles triangle as classically thought. The transversal light path in the interferometer, taking into account the supposed ether presence, the correct reflection angles, and considering the Huygens–Fresnel theory of light, was found to be different from the isosceles triangle supposed by Michelson. A correct alternative light path, as a rectangular triangle, which necessitates a zero or negligible time difference, compared to that expected theoretically by Michelson, was found. But such small time differences were reported in some experiments including Michelson’s own experiments. This means that in a movable media as the ether, the light’s double travel time does not depend on the direction of its displacement. Previously, the same result was found to be correct for the boat as well. The above findings may also be applicable to other similar experiments. Consequently, Michelson’s interferometer experiment should not be considered negative concerning the presence of ether and the special theory of relativity must be reconsidered. In fact, the correct interpretation of Michelson’s experiment does not confirm the relativity of the light speed (the independence of the movement direction) for a double travel, and it is not applicable to a simple travel.

Keywords: Geometrical Optics, Huygens–Fresnel Theory, Light Interference, Michelson Experiment, MMX, Ether, Special Relativity

Received: March 10, 2009; Accepted: February 17, 2010; Published Online: March 22, 2010