Physics 335, Lecture 1 / slide 01-10

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Possibly the most famous experimental physics "failure" of all time, in 1887 Michelson and Morley reported that their efforts to measure the speed of the Earth as it moves through the luminiferous ether (a fabled substance thought by Victorian physicists to fill the Universe so that light waves could move though a vacuum) had failed.  They were unable to detect any motion of the Earth whatsoever, which one might take as proof that the Earth really IS the unmoving center of the Universe -- then again, maybe we didn't quite understand how light moves.