The following is an item of Correspondence by H. Aspden published in Speculations in Science and Technology, v. 6, pp. 199-202 (1983).


Commentary: My book 'Physics Unified' was published in 1980 and I found that it was 'reviewed' by Allen D. Allen in a contribution to Speculations in Science and Technology, v. 4, p. 579 (1981). Although my book was really about the electrodynamic foundation for the theory of gravitation and the factors governing the Planck constant, as well as accounting for particle creation, including the proton, Allen directed his commentary at the case I had argued against the Einstein's theory of relativity. He asserted that it was not clear how the variability of the speed of light in rotating media argued against the theory of relativity.

Now, those who fence to defend Einstein's theory use two 'swords'. If the topic is the speed of light, then that involves the first sword, the one termed 'special'. Should one attack by a 'rotary' movement, then that sword is not used by the defendant, because it is only supposed to work for action involving non-accelerated situations. The other sword, that termed 'general', is designed to be used when the argument gets distorted by bringing in gravitational effects. These involve accelerated motion, but the defenders no longer use arguments based on the constant velocity of light. If its mathematical symbol c is brought into the argument, then that is regarded as a speed term that follows the curvature of 'four-space'. 'Four-space' is not something in which one can make measurements. Otherwise, physicists would have a way of testing Einstein's theory, without having to go through the usual process of making a measurement in 'three-space', then processing the data through what amounts to a computer program to convert its form, before writing the answer down on paper in the usual 'three-space' format. You see, Einstein's theory is 'tested' by comparing measurement and theory, but only after there has been some 'underhand' doctoring of the data by that mysterious process invented by Dr. Einstein.

This may well be getting off-track so far as the subject publication is concerned, but the fact is that scientists have ignored the effect of the Earth's rotation in their laboratory testing of Einstein's theory. It is possible to design an apparatus in which the speed of light can be measured for East-West and West-East travel, during a time interval in which the test apparatus is manipulated so as to be non-accelerated. One simply compensates for the acceleration attributable to Earth rotation and its orbital motion around the Sun and the virtually negligible effects of the cosmic motion of the solar system around the galactic centre.

Now, if anyone ever gets around to performing this laboratory experiment using modern laser technology and there is a difference, this has two consequences. Firstly, Einstein's theory is disproved, because the speed of light is then not constant in a non-accelerated frame, and that 'special' sword is blunted so as to be of no use in defending Einstein's theory. Secondly, the laboratory tests which do not compensate for acceleration but aim to measure anything connected with Einstein's theory, but light speed in particular, would in some way depend upon Earth rotation. In attacking Einstein's theory, I see no point in accepting that the two-sworded defender can play according to his own rules, when Nature has the governing hand in such an affray.

My response to Allen in 'Relativity and Rotation' drew attention to certain experimental evidence and I now provide the following quotations from that response:

"In a review of my book 'Physics Unified', Allen D. Allen, writing in Speculations in Science and Technology, v. 4, p. 579 (1981) says that it is not clear how the variability of the speed of light in rotating media argues against the theory of relativity. This lack of clarity may well be due to the fact that my primary argument in Chapter 3 of the book was directed to showing that the vacuum might have structure and that, if this structure rotated with the Earth or with other rotating objects, motion referenced on a non-rotating frame might be detected optically. I did say that if speed, as opposed to angular velocity, could be detected optically by reference to a non-rotating frame, the optical sensing being confined to the vacuum enclosed by the apparatus, then this would have dire consequences for the theory of relativity. I explain why below."

"Relativity does account for the optical sensing of relative motion in an inertial frame of parts of a rotating object and so the detection of the angular speed of that object. Thus, there was the Michelson-Gale experiment which evidenced Earth rotation in the interference patterns of light rays sent in opposite directions around a closed circuit. Also, there is the Sagnac experiment and the modern ring laser gyro, both of which show that light propagation can betray the rotation of the test apparatus. However, these concern angular speed measurement. The measurement of linear speed relative to a reference remote from and external to the test apparatus is quite another matter."

"If the West-East speed of a laboratory, owing to its rotation about the Earth's axis (some 350 m/s at 40oN), shows up in speed-of-light anisotropy measurements confined within the laboratory, then it is submitted that this would clearly refute Einstein's theory. Given such an experimental result, test apparatus otherwise fixed to the Earth and so constrained to share its acceleration, could, in principle, be replaced by similar apparatus caused to rotate once a day in the opposite sense and subjected to vertical acceleration of approximately 3 cm/s2 for test periods commensurate with the small time it takes for light to traverse an optical test circuit. Such an applied motion will ensure that the system is compensated to satisfy the zero acceleration requirement of Einstein's hypothesis. Now, there is no logical way in which one can argue that the 350 m/s detection can be eliminated owing to these acceleration effects. On the contrary, the logic of relativity argues that the 350 m/s speed cannot be detected in either situation. The laws of physics and speed-of-light measurements have to be the same for systems in relative non-accelerated motion. If 350 m/s difference in light speed is sensed and this cannot be connected with gravitational acceleration at the Earth's surface or the Earth's centrifugal acceleration without dependence upon Earth radius, then Einstein's theory stands disproved."

"All this can, of course, be dismissed as wishful thinking were it not for the fact that researchers persevere in experimental efforts to measure the cosmic speed anisotropy of light of several hundred km/s related to the sidereal frame and may well be stumbling over a detected anisotropy of a few hundred m/s in the Earth's inertial frame. The latter should be the focus of attention."

"The author mentions the experiments of Townes at al. reported in Physical Review Letters, v. 1, p. 342 (1958) in his book, but more relevant today is an experiment reported by Brillet and Hall reported in Physical Review Letters, v. 42, p. 549 (1979). In this paper they claimed a null result which was 4000 times more sensitive than the best previous measurement of light-speed anisotropy in space. Yet, consider what they say. A genuine spatial anisotropy would be evidenced by a laser-frequency shift as a vector amplitude at twice the rotation frequency of the table on which the test laser was mounted. The experiment gave a relevant signal of 17 Hz (2x10-13 times the laser frequency) with approximately constant phase in the laboratory frame. For this reason it was classified as spurious and persistent but ignored because, when shifted by analysis over 12 and 24 hour periods, it gave no genuine indication of motion in the sidereal frame. The expected signal would indicate 1/2(v/c)2, where v is the speed anisotropy and c is the speed of light, the factor being related to the term 2x10-13 actually observed. This indicates an anisotropy in light speed of 190 m/s in the Earth frame, clearly an important result from the viewpoint of the comments above. It is noted that the author (H. Aspden) regards the Brillet and Hall experiment as needing interpretation to allow for anisotropy effects upon the angle of deflection at mirror surfaces moving relative to the light reference frame. These make the 190 m/s indication subject to adjustment and so leave the issue inconclusive. However, the experiment to verify that the 350 m/s motion of a laboratory can be detected seems viable. It is crucial to Einstein's theory."

"Note that one is seeking to verify an anisotropy in light speed of the order of 10-6 the speed of light. Such a discrepancy between the speed of light, as measured East-West versus West-East, is of the same order as discrepancies now showing up in experiments comparing the speed of ultra-high energy photons and electrons. According to Einstein's mass formula for high speed electrons, an 11 Gev electron should move at a speed within about 2 parts in 109 that of light. Yet, as Brown et al. (Physical Review Letters, v. 30, p. 763; 1973) found, 7 Gev photons and 11 Gev electrons are both discrepant in this respect. The relative velocity difference compared with visible light is of the order of one part in a million, being, for the 11 Gev electrons, (-1.3+/-2.7)x10-6 that of light. It is submitted that if the electron speed is referenced on a non-rotating frame centred on the Earth's axis, then such discrepancies are to be expected. Yet, if a speed difference of 350 m/s shows up in such experiments, Einstein's theory is surely in trouble."

"From this it would be correct to conclude that the author has come firmly to the position that, notwithstanding all the apparent successes of Einstein's theory when tested against its key experimental criteria, it will fail once it is accepted that Earth rotation can be measured by optical speed-of-light tests. The author further believes that the evidence is before us but that we are so entranced by relativity that it is being overlooked and not probed in depth for its true significance. For example, suppose the Brillet and Hall experiment were performed at the North pole. Would the persistent and spurious signal then be non-existent? One may alternatively wonder how a signal can be both spurious and persistent, unless it is regarded as spurious because there is no explanation for it consistent with Einstein's theory."

"These remarks were prompted by Allen D. Allen's review of 'Physics Unified'. This book is really an update of the author's work, 'Physics Without Einstein'. In 1969 there was far less evidence of a preferred cosmic frame of reference than there is today and Einstein's theory seemed more secure. Yet, the author persisted in presenting his alternative perspective. One review by 'Il Nuovo Cimento' (v. 28B) is particularly apt:

"From a close analysis of the grounds of this theory new physical concepts arise having a great theoretical potential. . . The book represents undoubtedly only a first step in the development of the theory and does not claim to give a complete description . . . Undoubtedly also for Aspden's book it can be noted the lack of that formal polish which is characteristic of general relativity and which makes it so attractive. In fact, however, since the attempts to unify gravitational and electromagnetic phenomena led to incomplete results and since the physics of particles is unable to match with a satisfactory theory the multiplicity of experimental discoveries it seems appropriate to wonder whether we should take into serious consideration also possible alternatives to relativity. After all, it would be better to do it now that no experimental discovery has unquestionably contradicted the theory of relativity rather than in the future when, in front of the collapse (unlikely in the short term, but not impossible) of all the relativistic structure, it would be hard and slow to trace a new path out of the dust and ruins." (End of review)

"The Brillet and Hall experiment may be the forerunner of a conclusive test refuting Einstein's theory. It was reported in 1979. If it is verified by further experiment that the linear speed of a laboratory can be sensed by enclosed optical measurement relative to the Earth's inertial frame of reference, then Einstein's theory stands refuted. Two experiments would then help in the quest to support ether theory. Firstly, the optical test apparatus by which to sense light speed anisotropy should be flown along a line of latitude of say 40oN to see if the speed of flight affects the basic 350 m/s indication. Secondly, the apparatus should be conveyed vertically (as by the space shuttle) to see how the 350 m/s measurement changes with altitude. In particular, it would be interesting to see whether it increases over an initial altitude of say 100 km and then decreases suddenly to zero outside a zone of Earth influence corresponding to a region of ether drag."

"Until experiments of this kind resolve the issue, we are left to theorize. The author has shown in 'Physics Unified' how Einstein's General Relativity equation for the law of gravitation can be explained by energy propagation." (End of quotations from 'Relativity and Rotation')

Allen D. Allen also questioned the mathematics relied upon in deriving the non-relativistic version of that general law of gravitation, and this was also answered but a commentary on that is best incorporated in these Web pages along with the abstract of paper [1980b] on that subject, as published by the U.K. Institute of Physics. The relevant text of Physics Unified was a book version of the theory to be found in that very orthodox journal concerned with mathematical physics. It was thoroughly checked by several referees, in testimony of which there was an extensive review, because the referees needed some convincing. After all, here was a paper that argued a case in incontrovertible mathematics showing how easy it is to derive the Einstein General Relativity equation for motion under gravity, but by classical argument not involving relativistic principles.