Top Eleven: We Have a Winner!

The votes are in, and have been carefully tabulated by our bleary-eyed accounting firm (that is, me– I would’ve posted last night, but I went to see Chuck D speak (because I’m down with the old-school rap), and he went on for more than two hours…) . What looked like a runaway victory for Michelson and Morley actually tightened up quite a bit, thanks to a late surge by Michael Faraday:


  • Michelson-Morley: 23
  • Faraday: 19
  • Rutherford: 10
  • Galileo: 9
  • Roemer: 9
  • Aspect: 8.5
  • Hertz: 3
  • Cavendish: 2.5
  • Newton: 2
  • Hubble: 2
  • Mössbauer: 1

A total of 89 people voted, 90 if you count the one write-in vote for Darwin (I don’t), and include a few votes placed in the wrong comment threads (no election 2000 jokes, please). Thanks to all who participated.

So, the people have spoken: The Greatest Physics Experiment Ever is the Michelson and Morley experiment to detect the aether. The most famous failed experiment of all time is now officially the greatest physics experiment of all time, at least according to ScienceBlogs readers.

Comments are open if you’d like to congratualte the winner, or complain about the corporate conspiracy to tip the election to Michelson and Morley, well-known pawns of the optical precision measurement complex…

Comments

  1. #1 Dr. Free-Ride
    February 24, 2006

    How was Chuck D?

    (Also, w00t for Michelson and Morley!)

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    February 24, 2006

    How was Chuck D?

    Long-winded… I left after two and a half hours, partway into the question-and-answer period, and Student Activities finally pulled the plug an hour later. Apparently, he stuck around and signed autographs and talked to students for a while after that, too.

    There’s a short blurb about it here. I’ll post something more later, I hope– this has been a hellishly busy week.

  3. #3 megan
    February 24, 2006

    I just jumped into this in time for the results, ah well.

    I think the beauty of this winning is the reminder, so often posed by Feynman, that negative data is important and should be published. Just because things don’t work doesn’t mean it’s not informative to the rest of the scientific community. And if you don’t check…you never know…
    “In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another. ” – http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html

  4. #4 Loganayagam R
    February 24, 2006

    Great ! There were much more people voting here than were for the theory poll at CV. I take it to mean that in the interim, a lot more people have entered the physics blogosphere.

    And Thanks Chad, this was wonderful ! Anyway, I still stand for Faraday. What is four votes between Faraday and Michelson ?;)

  5. #5 Mike Wiest
    February 24, 2006

    I appreciate the point about the value of negative data, but I would have voted for Aspect (if I had found this site in time).

    The reason the Aspect experiments seem in a league of their own to me, is that to my knowledge all of the other experiments (maybe excepting the other quantum ones) allow us to maintain a worldview in which all influences are local. They characterize various types of locally acting entities, and may be seen a merely tuning the basic local world-model. This way of thinking has dominated our worldview at least since we started describing everything in terms of differential equations. Only Aspect forced us to accept that there are nonlocal influences, taking us outside the paradigm that has constrained theory for hundreds of years.

    Is there somewhere I can see other peoples comments justifying their votes?

  6. #6 Pete Dewar, Oxford, England
    December 9, 2006

    Firstly – apologies for using the “Comment” slot but I cannot locate “Ask a physicist”.
    Since, a zillionth of a second into the expansion, all the mass, energy etc was contained in a primordial cricket ball, where was the Schwarzchild sphere’s surface located? How did anything escape through the implied “Event horizon”? Did anything so escape or are we all still existing within a super black hole – and if so where’s the singularity?

  7. #7 Monado
    November 22, 2009

    Wot no Foucault and his pendulum? I always thought that was the neatest: a literal demonstration that the earth rotates beneath us.

  8. #8 Gene White
    October 20, 2010

    Why is space taken as a given. X could be substrative to space.

  9. #9 Wilfred
    May 13, 2011

    I like the explanation you gave. You see Michelson and Morley themselves thought their experiment proved the aether dragging hypothesis. I.O.W. that it did exist. Never leave theory to the experimentalists, but let Einstein look at your results. :-P

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