“The conclusions, the bizarre conclusions, emerge as though with the greatest of ease: the reasoning is unbreakable. It looks as though he had reached the conclusions by pure thought, unaided, without listening to the opinions of others. To a surprisingly large extent, that is precisely what he had done.” -C.P. Snow, on Einstein’s 1905 work
In 1887, two scientists set out to measure how the speed of light changed with the Earth’s motion. What they didn’t find wound up changing the world.
Today’s Ask Ethan is all about the most famous failed experiment in the history of science: the Michelson-Morley experiment. If ever you were curious how we detected that there was no such thing as the luminiferous aether — and what problem Einstein’s special relativity actually solved — this is one for you!
Go and read the whole thing here.