Ether and Electrons in Relativity Theory

In Jaume Navarro (ed.), Ether and Modernity. pp. 67-87 (2018)
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Abstract

This chapter discusses the roles of ether and electrons in relativity theory. One of the most radical moves made by Albert Einstein was to dismiss the ether from electrodynamics. His fellow physicists felt challenged by Einstein’s view, and they came up with a variety of responses, ranging from enthusiastic approval, to dismissive rejection. Among the naysayers were the electron theorists, who were unanimous in their affirmation of the ether, even if they agreed with other aspects of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The eventual success of the latter theory (circa 1911) owed much to Hermann Minkowski’s idea of four-dimensional spacetime, which was portrayed as a conceptual substitute of sorts for the ether.

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Scott A. Walter
Nantes University

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