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A Photon Aether


(Note:  I'm in the process of modifying this essay and there may be duplications of statements and statements may not be in the best order 0062608)

by Reason McLucus
Some  believe in the possibility of an aether used for propagation of light waves.  Such an aether ( comprised of photons) could exist undetected in an energy space without interacting with the shared space.  Only energy pulses (waves) passing through it would actually interact with the shared space and be detectable there.  Perhaps an aether extending throughout  the areas of the  universe considered a vacuum would have sufficient  mass and  be the serve as the  “dark matter” some physicists believe exists.

Contrary to a popular belief, the Michelson-Morley experiment didn’t disprove the existence of an aether.  The experiment suffered from several logical fallacies.  Michelson suggested that if an aether existed there would be an aether “wind” produced by the earth passing through the aether and this wind would affect the speed of light.

In empirical science the fact that a physical phenomenon doesn’t have an expected characteristic doesn’t mean the phenomenon itself doesn’t exist.  For example, disproof of an hypothesis that information cannot escape from a black hole would only disprove the hypothesis about information escaping not the hypothesis about existence of black holes in general.  

Michelson based his hypothesis on a false analogy of a person swimming in water to the propagation of an energy pulse (wave) through a medium.  A swimmer swimming across a current would take a different time to swim a given distance than one swimming with and against the current. [Note:some versions suggest that the analogy was to a boat.]  Swimming requires the swimmer continuously changing the position of the body as it displaces water so that the body can move from one location to another.  A swimmer’s speed can vary from one stroke to another in addition to being affected by the current of the river. Moreover the affect of the water varies not only with the current, but also with the surface area hit by the current.   The current would have a greater impact on the swimmer going across the current than the one going upstream because the current would hit more of the body. 

An energy pulse involves energy being passed from one set of elements in a medium to adjacent elements rather than any physical object moving from one location to another.  An analogy involving waves might consider the speed of waves created by a swimmer or boat, but not the swimmer or boat itself. 

Michelson may not have been aware of it, but the speed of  tsunami waves moving through the ocean are unaffected by the velocity of any current.  The speed of a tsunami wave is determined solely by the depth of the water and the gravitational constant.

His efforts to determine differences in velocity also suffered from a flaw by using interference caused by the light beams crossing each other.  The same interference would be observed if beam one intersected with beam two at an interval of 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 etc. waves. 

Michelson assumed that an aether would be fixed in space even though stars and planets are in constant motion.  If the aether were moving, it's relative motion with respect to earth would be unknown.  The earth itself is moving around the sun, the solar system is moving around the galaxy and the galaxy is moving through space.  The earth's velocity can only be determined relative to other moving objects.  There is no fixed object that would allow determination of some absolute velocity.

At any given time a portion of the earth would be hitting the aether head on.  If the apparatus were on that portion of the earth, then any aether wind would be blowing down on the apparatus rather  than across it.    If the apparatus were on the opposite side of the earth, there might be no aether wind affecting the lab.  The earth's orientation to any wind would be changing constantly as the earth rotates to the east at 1,000 mph.

The earth moves in a curved orbit which would mean the earth's orientation with respect to any wind would not necessarily be determined by which portion of the earth is facing the sun.  The direction of travel of the solar system with respect to any aether could also affect which portion of the earth were going into the wind. 

If an aether existed that portion of the aether surrounding a planet might move with the planet the way planetary gases do and there would be no wind for the surface of the planet to pass through.  Gravity has been shown to bend light.  Perhaps it does so by affecting the aether which in turn affects the path of the light. 

In an closed lab, the aether like the air in the lab would not be moving relative to the apparatus unless there were some device to circulate it.  If visible light couldn't pass through the walls of the lab the aether wouldn't either.  Those outside an  airplane traveling at over the speed of sound would hear the sound of the plane after the plane passed,  but within the plane people would be able to talk normally.  

Light and sound can pass through both air and water.  A light wave might only be propagated through an aether in space.  Air or water might displace the aether on a planet and be the medium through which it is propagated instead of an aether.  Sound waves passing through a wall use the wall as a medium because the air cannot move through the wall.  Sound waves can even be transmitted along a string between two cans.  The speed of sound varies depending upon the medium through which it is passes.  The speed of light also varies according to the medium through which it passes.  Light may move slower through air than the "vacuum" of space because air is the medium of transmission rather than the aether.

Sound waves moving through air move air molecules.  Electromagnetic radiation might only affect the electrons which in a transparent medium would transmit the energy as waves.  The conversion of radiation to heat energy would occur when the medium resisted the passage of electromagnetic waves in an analogous  manner to the heating that resistence to passage of electricity causes.   

The “duck test” would be a more appropriate way of determining the existence of an aether.  That is if something looks like a duck, acts like a duck, etc. it most likely is a duck.  If light functions like a wave it probably is one and thus some type of aether must exist in space through which it would  be propagated. 

Sound waves can effectively transfer complex information from one location to another.  The sounds produced by a large orchestra or chorus can be accurately transmitted through the same air space to listeners in the audience, or from the speakers of a stereo to listeners in a smaller room. 

Complex color patterns can be transmitted over long distances.  Individual photons presented with the "option" of two gates may go through one gate one time and the other gate at another time.  If individual photons were carrying color information over significant distances the color information would likely lose its pattern as individual photons took slightly different routes.  Waves carry information in an organized fashion.  The sound of a drum comes from the location of the drum rather than the location of a violin.  If color information is transmitted accurately over long distances it is most likely transmitted in an organized manner by photons organized as waves than as individual photons.

Free Energy, Gravity and the Aether  by Dan A. Davidson.

Invalidation by J Raymond Redbourne

The purpose of this essay is to examine a different approach to the idea of a photon aether rather than to make a definitive description.  The only logical explanation for the wave like behavior of light is the existence of some form of aether in space and the transfer of light waves by electrons through matter, including an atmosphere.

     Light is propagated through the disturbance of a photon aether that in a zero energy state exists as a separate 3-dimensional space. The space would be a true Euclidean space because photon are essentially dimensionless. For non-mathematicians, a Euclidean space is composed of points that have zero dimensions.


Energy can be transmitted by propelling an object from one location to another.  For example,  if someone throws an object he puts energy into the object with the throwing motion.  Energy that isn't lost in transit, such as through friction with the air, is transferred to whatever the object hits.

Waves transfer energy by elements of a medium passing along the energy from element to adjacent element.  This process allows more rapid movement of the energy because the elements of the medium don't have to travel any significant distance.  Sound waves travel through air at the earth's surface at a much higher velocity than wind speed which even in the most powerful tornadoes seldom exceeds 250 mph.

Transfer of energy by waves  provides greater dispersal of energy.  A single drop of water on a solid object would be unnoticed.  However, the same mass of water dropped into a pool or basin will produce a wave that expands over a wide area.  A star emitting energy in the form of waves would be more likely to transfer that energy over billions of light years than a star emitting energy through "throwing" particles.  Thrown particles would become so dispersed that they would be undetectable.  However, the transfer of energy from photon to photon in an aether would allow light to travel extremely long distances and still be detectable, particularly by focusing the wave.  A elevation of a tsunami tidal wave created by an underwater earthquake may be undetectable as it speeds across the ocean.  However, when it comes close to land, the energy may be sufficiently focused for the wave to have sufficient height to wash over buildings.


The elements of the wave transmitting  medium don't move in the sense of going from one place to another.  Rather these elements pass along the energy of the wave.  The elements of a wave propagating medium can be compared to spring loaded dominoes.  The placement of dominoes in a long line allows someone to knock over one domino and have that domino knock down the next one in line, etc.  Placment of one domino so hits two dominoes allows someone to knock over many lines of dominoes by knocking over just one.  If each domino had a spring that allowed it to pop back up, the effect would be similar to what happens when a wave passes through a medium.  The elements of the medium return to their original position after passage of the energy pulse.  The elements of the medium transfer the energy to adjacent elements.

     Photons in the aether would normally be in some type of zero energy state, much like the surface of a perfectly still body of water. The emission of photons by a light source would create waves in the aether like a stone dropped into still water would. The aether is 3-dimensional like the air that carries sound waves.

     A wave is created when something disturbs the medium that comprises the wave. For example, in a water wave something pushes water away from a spot. Those molecules of water at the point of the disturbance bump into neighboring molecules as if they were organized in concentric circles. Molecules continue moving outward much like dominoes being knocked down in sequence. The circles widen as the wave moves away from the source because the water molecules tend to hit multiple molecules like dominoes stacked so that one domino falls against two dominoes.

     A photon aether would function in the same way. Instead of a light source emitting photons which then take off at the speed of light while spreading out like a wave, the photons emitted by the light source bump into neighboring photons like water molecules bumping into their neighbors.

     An aether composed of photons would make light more understandable without conflicting with accepted concepts about the behavior of photons. One problem with explaining light as a wave is that waves normally need some type of medium to flow through.

     Light waves could flow across or through a photon aether like a sound wave passes through air. Photons could lodge in molecules when a wave passes around or through molecules the way water droplets lodge in a log when a water wave washes over the log.

     Waves such as a tsunami or sound waves move much faster than the medium they move through because the energy is transmitted directly from one element of the medium to another rather than using the energy to move the individual elements the entire distance. Light waves could move through a photon aether at high speed, with high energy, for similar reasons.

     The movement of photons emitted by a laser could be similar to the movement of electrons through a wire. An electric generator doesn't send individual electrons to an appliance. It pushes a line of them toward the appliance. The laser wouldn't so much send a stream of photons as it would push a line of photons.

    The random choice of a photon between going through one of two gates could result from the angle at which the emitted photon hit the other photons or the placement of photons relative to the gates.

     Alternatively, the movement of individual photons might be analogous to water being shot from a water gun.

     The emission of waves by molecules seems problematic without a photon aether. Individual molecules would seem incapable of emitting sufficient photons at one time to produce a wave. However, a molecule could produce a wave by "dripping" photons into a photon aether. The impact of the photons could produce a wave much like water dripping from a faucet into a bathtub produces waves.

The fact that light waves demonstrate interference patterns is one of the main reasons light has been described as a wave.  The pulse  and anti-pulse characteristic of a wave allows waves to add to each other(positive interference) if pulses of one wave coincide with pulses of another, or to subtract from each other(negative interference) if pulses of one wave coincide with anti-pulses of another wave.  This  result  can occur because waves don't alter the volume  of the medium through which they move.  The pulses and anti-pulses cancel each other out without without eliminating elements of the medium.

If light consisted of particles, destructive interference would seem to require the destruction of the particles.  These particles would also have to go through some type of phase changes, such as switching from "positive" to "negative" or perhaps go through an anti-particle phase.   



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