What and how does a Michelson interferometer measure?


Ushakov State Maritime Academy, Novorossiysk

Michelson interferometer is a very complicated and capricious instrument. Even more mysterious and difficult is to understand the nature of electrodynamic phenomena in moving media, which was studied by rotating the interferometer with two orthogonal coherent beams. Its idea was proposed, as is known, by Maxwell. Undertaking in 1881 the implementation of this idea, Michelson (since then the interferometer bears his name) assumed that the interferometer can measure the shift of the interference fringe when you turn the interferometer in vacuum, in the absence of media in zones of propagation of rays. Not at once there have been comprehended (after 1881 the misunderstanding lasted almost 90 years) that the shift of interference fringe in the Michelson interferometer is absent in vacuum and arises only when light's carriers have the refractive index ( n ) exceeding unity ( n > 1 ). Until now many believe that all known experiments on Michelson interferometer are "negative" conceding the official point of view in SRT that in rotating the interferometer the harmonic shift of the interference fringe is always absent, and fringe shifts observed by some experimenters allegedly are random or systematic errors of the device. In 1968-1975 years I proved experimentally that about 100 years sought for shift of interference fringe when turning interferometer really exists, confidently detecting the absolute motion of the Earth relative to aether at a speed of several hundred km/sec. But this hasw required that processes in the interferometer to be anew and correctly interpreted and be capable to properly extract the main interference process out of the noise and disturbances.
In the present report, I decided to address the root causes of failures of experimental detection of "aether wind" by using a Michelson-type interferometer in order to prevent experimenters from their recurrence. To do this, I will examine the reaction of the Michelson interferometer, which has as light's carrier of orthogonal beams various media. They were the lab vacuum (in evacuated flasks, n ~ 1), free air, other gases and liquids in flasks, solid optical-transparent media; with their help I scanned the range of values of refractive indices 1 < n < 1.8. In the act of measurement light's carriers always remain translationally-fixed relative to the instrument (the rotation of the interferometer by an angle 90° is a locally-methodical process). In the article [Phys.Lett.A 374 (2010) 1110] I reported on the disclosure of some methodological and interpretational artifacts in the performance of the Michelson's experiment, letting me measure the projection (on the plane of the horizon) of the absolute velocity of the Earth relative to the aether at a latitude of Obninsk at different times of day and night as 140 – 480 km/sec.
This version of the paper I supplement with the second method of determining the "aether wind" – from the found by me decrease (by 12%) of the winter interference fringe shift relative to summer one. The estimations obtained agree well with the results of the first method where the velocity of aether wind is determined directly from the shift of the interference fringe.


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