In 2008 I became interested in the claims of Black Light founder, Randel Mills, regarding a new state of catalyst bound hydrogen he named the hydrino. This was when Rowan Univercity confirmed an anomalous amount of heat energy was being generated by a reactor full of hydrogen and a customized skeletal catalyst called Rayney nickel. I remain a fence sitter regarding the Mills theory VS researchers like Arata who also claims anomalous heat released in his Pd nanopowders also based on theoretical forms of condensed hydrogen such as ”hydrogen clusters” or the isotope “deuterium ice”, or Naudts “relativistic hydrogen” or the team of Haisch and Model who also point to a synthetic form of skeletal catalyst based on Casimir effect that uses hydrogen caught in what they term a “Casimir-Lamb pinch”. A simple net search reveals the pores in Rayney nickel are of Casimir geometry making the environments of all these researchers essentially the same even though Haisch and Moddel propose a different method of extracting the energy. It was only recently I discovered the work of Lyne and Moller on the atomic furnace and atomic hydrogen generator both based on earlier work of Irving Langmuire . Their work reinfoced my concept of changes in casimir effect being able to disassociate h2 at a discount – An ashless reversible oscillation back and forth between the atomic and molecular form of hydrogen in a narrow thermal band that uncontrolled leads quickly to thermal runaway or starvation.
The Casimir effect is a physical forces arising from a quantized field. Two uncharged metallic plates placed a few hundred nanometers apart without any external electromagnetic field will develop a force of attraction between themselves. In a classical description, the lack of an external field would mean that there is no field between the plates, and no force would be measured between them. From the perspective of QED,( quantum electrodynamics), however the plates do affect the virtual photons (vacuum fluctuations) which constitute the field, and generate a net attraction between the two plates.
If the plates are free to move the longer waveforms inside the cavity are supressed reducing energy density relative to outside the cavity and will push the plates together. This force has been measured, and is a striking example of an effect purely due to second quantization. Dutch physicists Hendrik Casimir and Dirk Polder first proposed the existence of the force and formulated an experiment to detect it in 1948 while participating in research at Philips Research Labs. The classic form of the experiment, described above, successfully demonstrated the force to within 15% of the value predicted by the theory. In 2003 this force was measured to within 5% of theory. If the plates are braced apart this force becomes permanent and reduces the energy density btween the plates as compared to outside the plates. This view of wavelength supression where longer vacuum wavelengths are opposed inside a cavity of Casimir geometry is still controversial and subject to interpretation. A 2005 paper by Jan Naudts, ”On the hydrino state of the relativistic hydrogen atom”  , contends that the sub zero energy states of hydrogen like the hydrino, fast hydrogen or fractional hydrogen overlooked relativistic effects inside Casimir cavities. Relativistic hydrogen in this case may imply equivalent acceleration provided by the Casimir effect, These lower energy states remain stationary relative to lower energy density that occurs inside a Casimir cavity as the longer wavelength vacuum fluctuations are supressed by the closely spaced plates. The hydrogen is unaware of any translation because IMHO it is the “canvas” of space-time that is changing not the matter drawn upon it. I am proposing Naudt’s relativistic “translation” of hydrogen requires a relativistic interpretation of Casimir effect instead of the more comonly held concept of wavelength “exclusion”. In the relativistic interpretation the original longer waveforms are not “excluded” but rather still exist between the Casimir plates merely “translated” to appear faster from our relativistic perspective outside the plates. I am also proposing that the lower energy density inside casimir cavities favors atomic hydrogen to translate to different relativistic values while the covalent bond of H2 resists this translation (The atoms need to scale to different inertial frames but the covalent bond opposes this scaling). If these relativistic (fractional) hydrogen atoms form relativistic h2 while translated then this relativistic (fractional)hydrogen molecule will also resist further translation to any new fractional value for the same reason - the covalent bond is now locking the fractional atoms together and opposes any further change in inertial scaling. This provides an asymetrical exploitable path for atomic vs molecular hydrogen into and out of a Casimir cavity and allows the relativistic covalent bond to accumulate energy toward disassociation. If the accumulated energy allows the molecule to be disassociated for less energy than that which is released during molecular formation then thermal runaway can occur.
The Moller Atomic Hydrogen Generator is based on work by Irving Langmuire in the 1920′s with atomic hydrogen and tungsten electrodes to produce a hydrogen torch. In the paper “IRVING LANGMUIR AND ATOMIC HYDROGEN” http://alturl.com/asihb Nicholas Moller writes “ Had Langmuir been familiar with ZPE, he would most certainly have reached other conclusions in terms of explaining the extraordinary energy properties of atomic hydrogen. As it was proven by Langmuir, thevolume of the hydrogen when dissociated into atoms increases to the double of the volume of its molecular state. Upon recombination, heat energy is released to the tune of 90.000 cal/gram molecule. When incorporating ZPE in the explanation of the hydrogen process, it could be argued that the hydrogen is not really a fuel but rather a medium, gateway or a super-conductor of ZPE from the vacuum of space, converting ZPE radiation and ultra-high frequency electrical energy into infrared (heat) radiation. On recombination into molecules the ZPE is “squeezed” out, releasing the absorbed energy. “. The MAHG was largely abandoned in 2005 after exhaustive tests by Jean-Louis Naudin and collaboration with Moller failed to produce any solid evidence of over unity power. Their testing rested strongly on a pulse width modulated frequency delivered to the tungsten electrode sputtered on the inside of a special vacuum tube. They eliminated all oxygen but only circulated hydrogen as a function of heating provided by a PWM waveform to bring the molecules near disassociation levels. I believe Moller and Lynes’ concept of H2-H1 oscillation is more correct than the 3 body reactions claimed by Mills in the Black Light Process – I think Mills may be concentrating on the hydrides because they are the only ash available but the heat is coming from the reversible ashless reactions between atomic and molecular hydrogen. The hydrides are poisoning the reaction and reducing the Casimir effect by reacting with the cavity walls during thermal runaway. My posit, Like Moller and Lyne’s, is that hydrogen can osscilate between h1 and h2 in the presence of a vigorus catalyst or change in Casimir geometry (SAME THING). I propose that disassociation energy is contributed by changes in Casimir geometry which can take the form of pyrophoric material such as finely divided catalyst metals like Mills’ Rayney Nickel or Aratas’ Pd nano powders. My posit is that atomic hydrogen can translate freely to different “relativistic” or fractional values but the covalent bond of molecular hydrogen opposes translation to different relativistic values. The Pulsing waveform used to heat-disassociate h2 in the MAHG device can disassociate relativistic h2 at a discount if it occurs while the molecule’s covalent bond is opposing translation to a different Casimir geometry. The PWM scheme that they did adopt is similar to the HV electrolysis employed by Energetics another research team publishing similar claims based on their prototype device. The Moller AHG sadly failed to incorporate the circulation of hydrogen proposed in Lynes atomic Furnace and the prototype proposed in the Haisch – Moddel patent. The energy required to pump the hydrogen through the catalyst does not account for the anomalous heat energy claimed – these calculations were performed early on by Professor Garret Moddel who patented a system based on Casimir effect with Dr Bernard Haisch in May 2007. Casimir effect is based on the cube of the distance between plates and not a square law like most electrical or gravitational forces. According to a paper from Dr Carlos Calvet “Evidence for the Existence of 5 Real Spatial Dimensions in Quantum Vacuum” this points to a force displaced 90 degrees from 3D space. It sidesteps the Conservation of Energy and allows these covalent bonds to accumulate the normally unrectifiable chaotic energy behind the random motion of Gas Law. This random motin of gas atoms is based on Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle – a sneaky way to introduce Zero Point energy in a fashion that is accepted by mainstream.
The MAHG project was truly inspired but could have been improved with tungsten powder instead of a sputtered surface to greatly increase the surface area for the hydrogen to migrate through. I would also design the test to avoid thermal runaway which would immediately melt closed or create whiskers across any geometry exhibiting Casimir force, instead perhaps increase h2 circulation but reduce the PWM to keep the same temp with as little heater energy as possible. Likewise I think Arata’s experiments with hydrogen and Pd powder could benefit from the circulation demonstrated in the MAHG device – The problem being that most clasically trained researchers sees no sense in a closed loop of hydrogen being pumped around and around through the same catalyst.
A Science Daily article from Sept 28 th 2010 “Nanocatalyst Is a Gas“ reveals that tungsten oxide nano particles with inert zirconia as an insulating support structure can result in a 5 fold increase in catalytic action when you maximize the amount of these nanoparticles on the support structure without letting them touch. This research was funded to increase the octane in liquid gasoline but one would expect this effect to be stronger in a gas medium where the London Forces between nanoparticles are less obstructed by the widely distributed gas atoms as opposed to tightly bound liquid molecules. The research reaffirms the fundamental nature of catalytic action to increase with the amount of seperated surface areas inverse to the seperation space . a 2009 paper, “Pinpointing catalytic reactions on carbon nanotubes ”, by Peng Chen et all from Cornell Univercity, researchers discovered that catalytic action only occurs when this nanogeometry CHANGES at the openings and defects of a nanotube. Although packing geometry of nanoparticles can produce strong catalytic action (change in Casimir force) it seems that, IMHO, the rapidity and degree of change in force due to particle shapes may become more important than just the proximity. Similar to the smooth unbroken nanotube walls in the Cornell study where no catalytic action can occur the steadily changing geometry of perfectly round nano spheres would actually produce a minimal catalytic force compared to nano particles with rough dynamic surfaces. The very local change in space between nanoparticles with rough surfaces would be further enhanced by use of insulating materials, zeolites which add and subtract from the dispersion forces and can also alter the packing density of uniform nano particles. IMHO it is these properties of packing geometry shape and density which are reflected in the use and design of real and synthetic skeletal catalysts used by Mills in the Black Light Process, Haisch and Modell in their layered synthetic catalyst. Aratas’ Pd nano particles and Mollers’ tungsten sputtered electrode in the atomic hydrogen generator. Pyrophoric action sometimes occurs when metals are finely divided into nano particles through filing in a ball mill or even leaching out softer metals from a parent alloy like Rayney Nickel. Pyrophoric action is similar to the 5x catalytic action discussed in the Science Daily report except more pronounced and in an oxygen rich environment leads to combustion that eventually destroys the geometry by melting the surface areas together or at least into cat whiskers to reduce the force. This force does not disappear when you remove oxygen and may even allows you to more finely divide the metal into a more powefull force provided the milling is performed in a glove box and the resulting material stored in a vacum or inert gas. otherwise the material oxidizes and burns itself out destroying the geometry. Catalytic or pyrophoric action contributes to the disassociating force while natures pushes h1 to combine as h2. As long as oxygen is not present and the powder does not lose it’s finely divided property due to heat this process is a wholly reversible chemical path. The pyrophoric action of finely divided metal powders disguises catalytic action, Casimir geometry and the normally unrectifiable chaotic energy behind gas motion (HUP). It does not violate COE but rather provides an exception to the rule that you can not rectify the random motion of gas atoms.
As mentioned previously Naudts paper, ”On the hydrino state of the relativistic hydrogen atom“ provided a possible relativistic explanation for the hydrino and other condensed forms of hydrogen being proposed by researchers. IMHO it requires A relativistic interpretation of Casimir effect where the supression of wavelengths between two closely spaced plates of a Casimir cavity or pores of a skeletal catalyst actually curves space-time to make room for the wavelengths making those same wavelengths suddenly appear shorter from our perspective outside the cavity. Below the waveform and tiny observer inside a Casimir cavity appear to get smaller from our perspective but the waveforms and any hydrogen atoms inside the cavity appear unchanged to the tiny observer also inside.
The Twin paradox describes time dilation between an earth bound twin and another twin in a rocket ship approaching a high fraction of C but also holds true for equivalent acceleration where one twin remains stationary in free space while the other endures crushing gravitational acceleration at the bottom of a deep gravity well. This ”eqivalent acceleration” is what I am suggesting occurs inside a Casimir cavity at a nano scale. Not just the excluded wavelengths but all the EM frequencies inside a cavity appear relativisticly to be up-shifting due to this equivalent acceleration. The cavity is scrunching up space time -in a ”tail wagging the dog” scenario where the supression uses these restricted wavelengths like a handle on space time itself- and the se “seemingly condensed” forms of hydrogen are merely being redrawn on the “scrunched up” surface. Changes in energy density and time dilation occur for both the equivalent acceleration version of the Twin Paradox and EM supression inside a Casimir cavity (C is said to increase inside a cavity). In the macro – Twin example observers are relatively stationary to each other but seperated by a slow gravitational gradient that builds with distance/time^2 forming a gravity well. The observer floating in free space measures the same energy density as the observer at the bottom of the gravity well but space-time has stretched to scale our rulers and rods to keep this measurement the same. time dilation will accumulate slowly at whatever fraction of C the equivalent acceleration/gravity represents. Likewise I am proposing these same forces exist at the nano scale inside a Casimir cavity without the astronomical seperation between inertial frames – this allows us to exploit differences in inertial frames using the covalent bond as a rectifying mechanism where energy can be extracted by asymetrical paths between bonding states and spatial confinement.
Another relativistic view of EM supression is seen in “Cavity QED” by Zofia Bialynicka-Birula which proposes an abrupt break in isotropy between Casimir plates. This difference in energy density will always appear negative to an observer outside the cavity experiencing the standard energy density in free space. The abruptness of this EM supression inside a Casimir cavity suggests equivalent acceleration can occur between 2 observrs seperated by only the thickness of a Casimir cavity wall seperating the inside and outside of the cavity. IMHO Casimir plates accumulate a gravity well at an accelerated rate due to EM supression of longer wavelengths between the plates (like 2 ships parked too close together the longer waves are restricted creating a difference in pressure outside the ships vs between the ships which pushes them towards each other) if these Casimir plates are braced apart to prevent them from being pushed together a permanent exclusion field occurs. The excluded wavelengths between the plates mean you have an energy density that is lower than the density outside the plates without the great astronomical seperations needed in a gravity well. A 1999 paper “The Light Velocity Casimir Effect” by Tom Ostoma and Mike Trushyk which proposes the Casimir cavity as a relativistic environment where the velocity of light appears to increase relative to outside the cavity has led me to a relativistic interpretation of Casimir effect where the longer wavelengths outside the cavity still exist inside the cavity but simply appears shorter to external observers due to time dilation inside the cavity. Little difference to the external observer but this makes a huge difference to gas molecules migrating between the inside and outside of the cavity. I think this is the underlying energy source for many of the anomalous heat claims such as Moller’s Atomic Hydrogen Generator, Mills’ Black Light Process and Arata’s work with nano powders and hydrogen. You can dispense with the complicated such as Mill’s super chemistry for the hydrino, theories based on condesed forms of hydrogen or even my own relativistic interpretation of EM supression resulting in Casimir effect and simply look at this as an oxygen free form of pyrophoric action on the hydrogen bonding state. If the oxygen path is removed the catalytic force can attain higher levels capable of reducing the amount of energy needed to disassociate a molecule to a point lower than the energy released when the atoms reform h2 – a situation that can quickly runaway and destroy itself.
Below is a related summation on ether by JohnEB from the Hydrino Study group followed by my reply
From Hydrino Study Group Ether and the Theory of Relativity by JohnEB on September 11th, 2010, 9:49 am
An Address delivered on May 5th, 1920, in the University of Leyden
The following is from the book “SIDELIGHTS ON RELATIVITY” by Albert Einstein:
ETHER AND THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY
How does it come about that alongside of the idea of ponderable matter, which is derived by abstraction from everyday life, the physicists set the idea of the existence of another kind of matter, the ether? The explanation is probably to be sought in those phenomena which have given rise to the theory of action at a distance, and in the properties of light which have led to the undulatory theory. Let us devote a little while to the consideration of these two subjects.
Outside of physics we know nothing of action at a distance. When we try to connect cause and effect in the experiences which natural objects afford us, it seems at first as if there were no other mutual actions than those of imrsa c ;ate contact, e.g. the communication of motion by impact, push and pull, heating or ind.ut;- ing combustion by means of a flame, etc It is true that even in everyday experience weight, which is in a sense action at a distance, plays a very important part. But since in daily experience the weight of bodies meets us as something constant, something not linked to any cause which is variable in time or place, we do not in everyday life speculate as to the cause of gravity, and therefore do not become conscious of its character as action at a distance. It was Newton’s theory of gravitation that first assigned a cause for gravity by interpreting it as action at a distance, proceeding from masses. Newton’s theory is probably the greatest stride ever made in the effort towards the causal nexus of natural phenomena. And yet this theory evoked a lively sense of discomfort among Newton’s contemporaries, because it seemed to be in conflict with the principle springing from the rest of experience, that there can be reciprocal action only through contact, and not through immediate action at a distance.
It is only with reluctance that man’s desire for knowledge endures a dualism of this kind. How was unity to be preserved in his comprehension of the forces of nature ? Either by trying to look upon contact forces as being themselves distant forces which admittedly are observable only at a very small distance—and this was the road which Newton’s followers, who were entirely under the spell of his doctrine, mostly preferred to take ; or by assuming that the Newtonian action at a distance is only apparently immediate action at a distance, but in truth is conveyed by a medium permeating space, whether by movements or by elastic deformation of this medium. Thus the endeavour toward a unified view of the nature of forces leads to the hypothesis of an ether. This hypothesis, to be sure, did not at first bring with it any advance in the theory of gravitation or in physics generally, so that it became customary to treat Newton’s law of force as an axiom not further reducible. But the ether hypothesis was bound always to play some part in physical science, even if at first only a latent part.
When in the first half of the nineteenth century the far-reaching similarity was revealed which subsists between the properties of light and those of elastic waves in ponderable bodies, the ether hypothesis found fresh support. It appeared beyond question that light must be interpreted as a vibratory process in an elastic, inert medium filling up universal space. It also seemed to be a necessary consequence of the fact that light is capable of polarisation that this medium, the ether, must be of the nature of a solid body, because transverse waves are not possible in a fluid, but only in a solid. Thus the physicists were bound to arrive at the theory of the ” quasi-rigid ” luminiferous ether, the parts of which can carry out no movements relatively to one another except the small movements of deformation which correspond to light-waves.
This theory—also called the theory of the stationary luminiferous ether—moreover found a strong support in an experiment which is also of fundamental importance in the special theory of relativity, the experiment of Fizeau, from which one was obliged to infer that the luminiferous ether does not take part in the movements of bodies. The phenomenon of aberration also favoured the theory of the quasi-rigid ether.
The development of the theory of electricity along the path opened up by Maxwell and Lorentz gave the development of our ideas concerning the ether quite a peculiar and unexpected turn. For Maxwell himself the ether indeed still had properties which were purely mechanical, although of a much more complicated kind than the mechanical properties of tangible solid bodies. But neither Maxwell nor his followers succeeded in elaborating a mechanical model for the ether which might furnish a satisfactory mechanical interpretation of Maxwell’s laws of the electro-magnetic field. The laws were clear and simple, the mechanical interpretations clumsy and contradictory. Almost imperceptibly the theoretical physicists adapted themselves to a situation which, from the standpoint of their mechanical programme, was very depressing. They were particularly influenced by the electro-dynamical investigations of Heinrich Hertz. For whereas they previously had required of a conclusive theory that it should content itself with the fundamental concepts which belong exclusively to mechanics (e.g. densities, velocities, deformations, stresses) they gradually accustomed themselves to admitting electric and magnetic force as fundamental concepts side by side with those of mechanics, without requiring a mechanical interpretation for them. Thus the purely mechanical view of nature was gradually abandoned. But this change led to a fundamental dualism which in the long-run was insupportable. A way of escape was now sought in the reverse direction, by reducing the principles of mechanics to those of electricity, and this especially as confidence in the strict validity of the equations of Newton’s mechanics was shaken by the experiments with 13-rays and rapid kathade rays.
This dualism still confronts us in unextenuated form in the theory of Hertz, where matter appears not only as the bearer of velocities, kinetic energy, and mechanical pressures, but also as the bearer of electromagnetic fields. Since such fields also occur in vacuo—i.e. in free ether— the ether also appears as bearer of electromagnetic fields. The ether appears indistinguishable in its functions from ordinary matter. Within matter it takes part in the motion of matter and in empty space it has everywhere a velocity ; so that the ether has a definitely assigned velocity throughout the whole of space. There is no fundamental difference between Hertz’s ether and ponderable matter (which in part subsists in the ether).
The Hertz theory suffered not only from the defect of ascribing to matter and ether, on the one hand mechanical states, and on the other hand electrical states, which do not stand in any conceivable relation to each other ; it was also at variance with the result of Fizeau’s important experiment on the velocity of the propagation of light in moving fluids, and with other established experimental results.
Such was the state of things when H. A. Lorentz entered upon the scene. He brought theory into harmony with experience by means of a wonderful simplification of theoretical principles. He achieved this, the most important advance in the theory of electricity since Maxwell, by taking from ether its mechanical, and from matter its electromagnetic qualities. As in empty space, so too in the interior of material bodies, the ether, and not matter viewed atorlistically, was exclusively the seat of electromagnetic fields. According to Lorentz the elementary particles of matter alone are capable of carrying out movements ; their electromagnetic activity is entirely confined to the carrying of electric charges. Thus Lorentz succeeded in reducing all electromagnetic happenings to Maxwell’s equations for free space.
As to the mechanical nature of the Lorentzian ether, it may be said of it, in a somewhat playful spirit, that immobility is the only mechanical property of which it has not been deprived by H. A. Lorentz. It may be added that the whole change in the conception of the ether which the special theory of relativity brought about, consisted in taking away from the ether its last mechanical quality, namely, its immobility. How this is to be understood will forthwith be expounded.
The space-time theory and the kinematics of the special theory of relativity were modelled on the Maxwell-Lorentz theory of the electromagnetic field. This theory therefore satisfies the conditions of the special theory of relativity, but when viewed from the latter it acquires a novel aspect. For if K be a system of co-ordinates relatively to which the Lorentzian ether is at rest, the Maxwell-Lorentz equations are valid primarily with reference to K. But by the special theory of relativity the same equations without any change of meaning also hold in relation to any new system of co-ordinates K’ which is moving in uniform translation relatively to K. Now comes the anxious question :—Why must Yin the theory distinguish the K system above all K’ systems, which are physically equivalent to it in all respects, by assuming that the ether is at rest relatively to the K system ? For the theoretician such an asymmetry in the theoretical structure, with no corresponding asymmetry in the system of experience, is intolerable. If we assume the ether to be at rest relatively to K, but in motion relatively to K’, the physical equivalence of K and K’ seems to me from the logical standpoint, not indeed downright incorrect, but nevertheless inacceptable.
The next position which it was possible to take up in face of this state of things appeared to be the following. The ether does not exist at all. The electromagnetic fields are not states of a medium, and are not bound down to any bearer, but they are independent realities which are not reducible to anything else, exactly like the atoms of ponderable matter. This conception suggests itself the more readily as, according to Lorentz’s theory, electromagnetic radiation, like ponderable matter, brings impulse and energy with it, and as, according to the special theory of relativity, both matter and radiation are but special forms of distributed energy, ponderable mass losing its isolation and appearing as a special form of energy.
More careful reflection teaches us, however, that the special theory of relativity does not compel us to deny ether. We may assume the existence of an ether ; only we must give up ascribing a definite state of motion to it, i.e. we must by abstraction take from it the last mechanical characteristic which Lorentz had still left it. We shall see later that this point of view, the conceivability of which I shall at once endeavour to make more intelligible by a somewhat halting comparison, is justified by the results of the general theory of relativity.
Think of waves on the surface of water. Here we can describe two entirely different things. Either we may observe how the undulatory surface forming the boundary between water and air alters in the course of time ; or else–with the help of small floats, for instance—we can observe how the position of the separate particles of water alters in the course of time. If the existence of such floats for tracking the motion of the particles of a fluid were a fundamental impossibility in physics—if, in fact, nothing else whatever were observable than the shape of the space occupied by the water as it varies in time, we should have no ground for the assumption that water consists of movable particles. But all the same we could characterise it as a medium.
We have something like this in the electromagnetic field. For we may picture the field to ourselves as consisting of lines of force. If we wish to interpret these lines of force to ourselves as something material in the ordinary sense, we are tempted to interpret the dynamic processes as motions of these lines of force, such that each separate line of force is tracked through the course of time. It is well known, however, that this way of regarding the electromagnetic field leads to contradictions.
Generalising we must say this :—There may be supposed to be extended physical objects to which the idea of motion cannot be applied. They may not be thought of as consisting of particles which allow themselves to be separately tracked through time. In Minkowski’s idiom this is expressed as follows :—Not every extended conformation in the four-dimensional world can be regarded as composed of world-threads. The special theory of relativity forbids us to assume the ether to consist of particles observable through time, but the hypothesis of ether in itself is not in conflict with the special theory of relativity. Only we must be on our guard against ascribing a state of motion to the ether.
Certainly, from the standpoint of the special theory of relativity, the ether hypothesis appears at first to be an empty hypothesis. In the equations of the electromagnetic field there occur, in addition to the densities of the electric charge, only the intensities of the field. The career of electromagnetic processes in vacuo appears to be completely determined by these equations, uninfluenced by other physical quantities. The electromagnetic fields appear as ultimate, irreducible realities, and at first it seems superfluous to postulate a homogeneous, isotropic ether- medium, and to envisage electromagnetic fields as states of this medium.
But on the other hand there is a weighty argument to be adduced in favour of the ether hypothesis. To deny the ether is ultimately to assume that empty space has no physical qualities whatever. The fundamental facts of mechanics do not harmonize with this view. For the mechanical behaviour of a corporeal system hovering freely in empty space depends not only on relative positions (distances) and relative velocities, but also on its state of rotation, which physically may be taken as a characteristic not appertaining to the system in itself. In order to be able to look upon the rotation of the system, at least formally, as something real, Newton objectivises space. Since he classes his absolute space together with real things, for him rotation relative to an absolute space is also something real. Newton might no less well have called his absolute space “Ether ” ; what is essential is merely that besides observable objects, another thing, which is not perceptible, must be looked upon as real, to enable acceleration or rotation to be looked upon as something real.
It is true that Mach tried to avoid having to accept as real something which is not observable by endeavouring to substitute in mechanics a mean acceleration with reference to the totality of the masses in the universe in place of an acceleration with reference to absolute space. But inertial resistance opposed to relative acceleration of distant masses presupposes action at a distance ; and as the modern physicist does not believe that he may accept this action at a distance, he comes back once more, if he follows Mach, to the ether, which has to serve as medium for the effects of inertia. But this conception of the ether to which we are led by Mach’s way of thinking differs essentially from the ether as conceived by Newton, by Fresnel, and by Lorentz. Mach’s ether not only conditions the behaviour of inert masses, but is also conditioned in its state by them.
Mach’s idea finds its full development in the ether of the general theory of relativity. According to this theory the metrical qualities of the continuum of space-time differ in the environment of different points of space-time, and are partly conditioned by the matter existing outside of the territory under consideration. This space-time variability of the reciprocal relations of the standards of space and time, or, perhaps, the recognition of the fact that ” empty space ” in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic, compelling us to describe its state by ten functions (the gravitation potentials gµv), has, I think, finally disposed of the view that space is physically empty. But therewith the conception of the ether has again acquired an intelligible content, although this content differs widely from that of the ether of the mechanical undulatory theory of light. The ether of the general theory of relativity is a medium which is itself devoid of all mechanical and kinematical qualities, but helps to determine mechanical (and electromagnetic) events.
What is fundamentally new in the ether of the general theory of relativity as opposed to the ether of Lorentz consists in this, that the state of the former is at every place determined by connections with the matter and the state of the ether in neighbouring places, which are amenable to law in the form of differential equations ; whereas the state of the Lorentzian ether in the absence of electromagnetic fields is conditioned by nothing outside itself, and is everywhere the same. The ether of the general theory of relativity is transmuted conceptually into the ether of Lorentz if we substitute constants for the functions of space which describe the former, disregarding the causes which condition its state. Thus we may also say, I think, that the ether of the general theory of relativity is the outcome of the Lorentzian ether, through relativation.
As to the part which the new ether is to play in the physics of the future we are not yet clear. We know that it determines the metrical relations in the space-time continuum, e.g. the configurative possibilities of solid bodies as well as the gravitational fields ; but we do not know whether it has an essential share in the structure of the electrical elementary particles constituting matter. Nor do we know whether it is only in the proximity of ponderable masses that its structure differs essentially from that of the Lorentzian ether ; whether the geometry of spaces of cosmic extent is approximately Euclidean. But we can assert by reason of the relativistic equations of gravitation that there must be a departure from Euclidean relations, with spaces of cosmic order of magnitude, if there exists a positive mean density, no matter how small, of the matter in the universe. In this case the universe must of necessity be spatially unbounded and of finite magnitude, its magnitude being determined by the value of that mean density.
If we consider the gravitational field and the electromagnetic field from the standpoint of the ether hypothesis, we find a remarkable difference between the two. There can be no space nor any part of space without gravitational potentials ; for these confer upon space its metrical qualities, without which it cannot be imagined at all. The existence of the gravitational field is inseparably bound up with the existence of space. On the other hand a part of space may very well be imagined without an electromagnetic field ; thus in contrast with the gravitational field, the electromagnetic field seems to be only secondarily linked to the ether, the formal nature of the electromagnetic field being as yet in no way determined by that of gravitational ether. From the present state of theory it looks as if the electromagnetic field, as opposed to the gravitational field, rests upon an entirely new formal motif, as though nature might just as well have endowed the gravitational ether with fields of quite another type, for example, with fields of a scalar potential, instead of fields of the electromagnetic type.
Since according to our present conceptions the elementary particles of matter are also, in their essence, nothing else than condensations of the electromagnetic field, our present view of the universe presents two realities which are completely separated from each other conceptually, although connected causally, namely, gravitational ether and electromagnetic field, or—as they might also be called—space and matter.
Of course it would be a great advance if we could succeed in comprehending the gravitational field and the electromagnetic field together as one unified conformation. Then for the first time the epoch of theoretical physics founded by Faraday and Maxwell would reach a satisfactory conclusion. The contrast between ether and matter would fade away, and, through the general theory of relativity, the whole of physics would become a complete system of thought, like geometry, kinematics, and the theory of gravitation. An exceedingly ingenious attempt in this direction has been made by the mathematician H. Weyl; but I do not believe that his theory will hold its ground in relation to reality. Further, in contemplating the immediate future of theoretical physics we ought not unconditionally to reject the possibility that the facts comprised in the quantum theory may set bounds to the field theory beyond which it cannot pass.
Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable ; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring-rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it.