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No. 22: Jul-Aug 1982

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Herbert Ives And The Ether

Herbert Ives was a top scientist at Bell Laboratories who performed some largely forgotten experiments on relativity and space-time a few decades ago. His experimental prowess and reputation were so good that his work on relativity was published in great detail in the Journal of the Optical Society of America. Ives would have had a more difficult time getting his results published today, for he showed quite clearly that Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity did not correspond to lab results. At the time, such results were not so shocking. Indeed, some philosophers had shown that Special Relativity led to undesirable paradoxes, and experiments by Sagnac and Michelson/Gale had cast additional doubt on this aspect of Relativity.

Such experiments by Ives and other key scientists suggested that an ether actually did exist and that it could serve as an absolute reference frame. Another implication was that time was an independent entity unaffected by motion and that the infamous Twin Paradox was a fiction.

Ives himself believed his work proved that so-called relativistic effects could be easily explained by phenomena appealing more to the common sense, such as the change of a light source's frequency with motion (over and above the Doppler Effect), rather than revamping space-time concepts. In short, Ives thought he had proved Special Relativity untenable experimentally and an un-necessary distortion of science's worldview.

(Barnes, Thomas G., and Ramirez, Francisco S.; "Velocity Effects on Atomic Clocks and the Time Question," Creation Research Society Quarterly, 18:198, 1982.)

Comment. Why do the textbooks neglect to mention the Ives experiments and why should a review of Ives' work appear in a creationist publication? The answers are easy: Special Relativity now has the status of scientific dogma, which one questions at his own peril. The creationists, on the other hand, vehemently reject relativitism in favor of absolute standards in space-time as well as other features of human existence. It would be amusing if the real world conformed to neither model, both of which are defended so passionately.

From Science Frontiers #22, JUL-AUG 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987