Ether-drift Experiments at Mount Wilson Solar Observatory. By Dayton C. Miller, 1922

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The ether-drift interferometer with a light-path of 224 feet, which was used by Morley and Miller in the Cleveland experiments of 1904 and 1905,[1] has been remounted at the Mount Wilson Observatory in southern California, and observations were obtained in April and in December, 1921. In some of the earlier observations made on a slightly elevated location there was a small displacement of the interference fringes such as would be expected from a true ether-drift. The present series of observations had the object of determining whether this displacement would be larger at the elevation of about 5,900 feet above sea level, and whether it would be affected by the change in the direction of the earth's motion in space from April to November. It was further decided to determine whether the effect was due to magnetic disturbances, by using a steel base for the optical parts in April, and a concrete base in December.

The results show a definite displacement, periodic in each half revolution of the interferometer, of the kind to be expected, but having an amplitude of one tenth of the presumed amount. This is slightly larger than the displacement obtained in Cleveland in 1905. However, this displacement is always accompanied by a disturbance, periodic in one complete revolution of the interferometer, the cause of which is so far unexplained. Final conclusions cannot be drawn until this disturbing factor has been eliminated, by further experimentation. The observations show that the effect is not due to magnetism, and that its magnitude is about the same in April and December.

Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio, December 20, 1921.

  1. Philosophical Magazine, May, 1905.

Physikal Review, 19, p. 407—408. 1922.

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