A Dissident Viewof Relativity Theory

A Dissident View of Relativity Theory

Source: http://www.infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue59/adissidentview.html

William H. Cantrell, Ph.D.

IE Editorial, Issue 59

Welcome dear colleagues to another special issue of IE Magazine. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s famous paper1 on special relativity; consequently, we dedicate this issue to an inspection of his work. There is a cornucopia of written material celebrating Einstein’s genius, his achievements, his thoughts, and his politics. There is also a wealth of controversial material to draw upon, so much in fact that this is the third issue on this theme (after IE #38 and 39). Although the majority of the literature makes the case for Einstein’s theory of relativity, you—the astute reader—will soon discover that this is not one of them.

There is a considerable amount of folklore and confusion concerning Einstein and the importance of his theory of relativity. For example, when he wrote his famous paper in 1905, contrary to popular belief, he was not attempting to address the 1887 Michelson-Morley null-result. He claimed2 to be unaware of it at the time! It is almost inconceivable that a young physicist in 1905 would not know about the Michelson-Morley experiment—this would be analogous to an electrician not knowing about Ohm’s Law.

No doubt the average citizen assumes that relativity theory is vital to our modern society. In truth it has almost no role to play, except in a few narrow branches of science. For example, the Apollo program to land a man on the moon was a complete success as a result of the physics of Sir Isaac Newton—relativity theory did not play a role. Einstein’s work on Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect was far more important than relativity.

This may come as a shock, but Einstein’s theory of relativity is not part of the design of nuclear weapons! As proof, here is an excerpt from The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How To Build an Atomic Bomb, "Section 2. Energy of Fission Process," page 7:

Somehow the popular notion took hold long ago that Einstein’s theory of relativity, in particular his famous equation E = mc2, plays some essential role in the theory of fission. Albert Einstein had a part in alerting the United States government to the possibility of building an atomic bomb, but his theory of relativity is not required in discussing fission. The theory of fission is what physicists call a nonrelativistic theory, meaning that relativistic effects are too small to affect the dynamics of the fission process significantly."

This primer3 is a collection of lecture notes taught by Berkeley theoretician Dr. Robert Serber to the young physicists arriving at Los Alamos beginning in 1943. The purpose of Serber’s lectures was to bring the new arrivals up to speed quickly, so that the Manhattan Project could produce a "practical military weapon" in the shortest possible time. It contains a considerable amount of information on weapon design and the differential equations to be solved to calculate neutron flux. Serber explains that the energy released from the nucleus during fission is simply that of electrostatic repulsion between protons. A considerable amount of potential energy is stored by cramming the positively charged protons together in a nucleus and this is what gets released when it splits. Einstein’s famous equation is not involved.

By the time the Manhattan Project started, Einstein was in his sixties. His contribution consisted of signing a letter composed by physicist Leo Szilard and addressed to FDR. His role as scientific icon was needed to ensure that the scientists could capture the attention of the President and the War Department. Needless to say, it worked.

Einstein’s role as scientific icon was also called upon to spur the U.S. Navy into action. The Naval Ordinance Department had designed a faulty torpedo contact detonator, and then failed to test it adequately. In utter exasperation over the Ordinance Department’s refusal to take corrective action, the submariners sought out Einstein to decree the detonator mechanism faulty—something that any bicycle mechanic could have seen first hand. But it took Einstein’s clout to finally shake the bureaucracy into action.

On the magazine cover we see Einstein enjoying one of his hobbies, something that biographer Albrecht Fölsing noted rather dryly in 1993:

    Even devoted admirers of Einstein would not dispute that the progress of physics would not have suffered if the indisputably greatest scientist among them had spent the final three decades of his life—roughly from 1926 on—sailing.

Ironically, after causing a revolution in physics, Einstein rejected the next revolution that was quantum physics. This worked against him later in life, as all of his attempts failed to discover a unified field theory, not that anyone else has had any success either!


In this issue we highlight some of the experimental facts that do not fit with relativity theory. We discuss some of its logical inconsistencies and offer alternatives for your consideration. We also look at the controversies associated with some of Einstein’s ideas and how they first originated. As always, our goal is to bring you viable, plausible alternatives to the cherished and protected dogma of mainstream physics—areas where theory does not agree with experimental facts.

It is undoubtedly a fact that relativity theory had a profound impact on physics during the twentieth century. Einstein’s theory is celebrated the world over for having produced a series of brilliant successes. Nevertheless, there is a sizeable community of dissident scientists who reject it outright, and a far larger group, unaware of an alternative, who harbor a pronounced distaste for it. This dislike stems from the fact that Einstein borrows from the mathematics of Lorentz and Poincaré, and this allows him to modify length and time measurement to force the speed of light to be constant for all observers. Given a clear alternative to tampering with the fundamentals, most rational thinkers would jump at the chance for a substitute. But why challenge such a supposedly successful theory? Well, for two very good reasons—first, to truly understand and describe how nature works, and second, to achieve new breakthroughs, once an unintentional roadblock to progress has been removed.

As an undergraduate student nearly 30 years ago, I recall vividly the day we got to the subject of relativity theory. A stranger casually strolled into class during the middle of the lecture and took a seat in the back. I guessed that he might be a graduate student, but he looked like he was right out of the Sixties, complete with sandals, beads, and wild frizzy hair. As the professor continued with his lecture, the hippie decided to protest by eating from a brown paper bag. I recall the sounds of the bag being opened, a sandwich being unwrapped, and the hippie munching away. All the while, he peered at the professor scribbling on the chalk board, as if at a drive-in. Toward the end of class, Mr. Hippie stood up and began to pepper Dr. Establishment with several questions and challenges, all in rapid-fire succession. A heated technical discussion ensued concerning topics such as Lorentz "Boosts," violations of Newton’s Third Law, and refusals to teach alternative theories. As I sat there in stunned silence, it seemed as if Mr. Hippie got the upper hand before storming out. After reading this issue, I think you might agree with his sentiments.

A Properly Defined Theory

Before we explore alternatives to relativity theory, let’s agree on exactly what is a proper scientific theory. Surprisingly, the answer to this question is not as settled as it once was. We believe that a theory should describe nature as it really works. It should be testable and make accurate predictions of experimental outcomes not yet put to the test. A proper theory must not be continually patched and modified with ad hoc "band aids" to explain new observations. It must be refutable, that is, it must not be protected from refutation by way of its own construction.

This is by no means a universally held view. Caltech Professor David L. Goodstein makes a jaw-dropping statement4 in his otherwise magnificent video lecture series:

    . . .As a matter of fact there’s a point of view that says, that the only way that science can make progress is by showing that theories are wrong. The argument goes like this: It’s impossible to prove that a theory is right, no matter how many experiments agree with it. But if one single experiment disagrees with it, then the theory must be wrong.

Correct. So far so good, but then he goes on to say:

    Well, that itself is a theory of knowledge, which is wrong, because there are theories in science, which are so well verified by experience that they become promoted to the status of fact. One example is the Special Theory of Relativity. It’s still called a theory for historical reasons, but it is in reality a simple, engineering fact, routinely used in the design of giant machines like nuclear particle accelerators, which always work perfectly. . .

So here we have a fundamental metaphysical disagreement concerning the rules of the game—an enormous philosophical disconnect. The mainstream elevates some theories to a higher plane, to the status of unquestionable religion.

To illustrate the importance of being able to refute a theory, consider the following hypothetical: The Earth has a twin moon made of a special green cheese that is perfectly transparent to illumination. Obviously this is nonsense, but by its own design, the statement cannot be refuted by experiment. We find ourselves in a similar predicament when it comes to Einstein’s relativity. Numerous dissidents have made the argument that the theory is logically inconsistent because it assumes a constant speed of light, and then sets out to prove what it assumes. Relativity theory cannot be proven false on strictly theoretical grounds because it is inadvertently protected from refutation by its own circular logic.

Special Relativity

Special relativity theory (SRT) contains two postulates. The first postulate is a restatement of Galileo’s relativity principle which says that the laws of physics apply equally well for all inertial frames, whether at rest or in uniform rectilinear motion (no acceleration). The second postulate says that the velocity of light is independent of the speed of its source. This postulate by itself is not strange or unexpected. When a train whistle blows, the speed of sound is independent of the speed of the train, but not of the velocity of the wind carrying the sound to the observer. Here, the air molecules are the medium and they play the equivalent role of an aether-wind for electromagnetism. But with relativity theory, we have no aether.

Over time the second postulate has been reinterpreted to mean that all observers, regardless of their own velocity, see light propagating always at the same speed (in vacuum). Lengths shorten and time slows so that the computed velocity (i.e., length divided by time) is always constant. The paradoxes and problems created by this clever little trick are endless. Take the case of relativistic interstellar travel. If lengths really contract as viewed by the observer, then when you blast off from Earth, the closer you approach the speed of light, the closer the receding Earth gets to you.

Length Contraction

The origins of length contraction started with G.F. FitzGerald. He was the first to suggest that Lorentz’s deformation model5 for a moving electron also applied to the "macro-world" in order to explain the Michelson-Morley null-result. It was this purely ad hoc idea that started the whole problem. During the first half of the twentieth century, physicists were eager to put length contraction to the test and see if the phenomenon really existed. Several experiments were performed,6-8 but no variation in length was observed. A modern space-based test has been proposed by Renshaw,9 but to date, no direct experimental verification of relativistic length contraction has ever been measured.

Time Dilation

There is absolutely no argument that time-keeping mechanisms do slow down when moving at high speed, and that in most instances, they obey the time dilation formula of Lorentz and Poincaré. (There are violations, as Jefimenko10 has pointed out.) The dissident argument here is really more of a metaphysical one. A distinction should be made between Universal absolute invariant time and gravitational effects acting on time-keeping mechanisms such as water clocks, grandfather clocks, digital watches, radioactive decay rates, and cesium clocks (cesium atoms), to name just a few.

All sources of oscillation in nature are influenced by a change in gravitational potential. To build a clock, we have no choice but to exploit oscillator sources. Unfortunately we cannot construct an ideal clock even if we use cesium atoms by definition. This was aptly demonstrated by the famous Häfele-Keating experiment11,12 in which cesium clocks were flown around the world. The atomic clock transported eastward lost 59 ns, while the atomic clock transported westward gained 273 ns, compared to the stationary laboratory standard.

All physical devices used for time keeping are subject to error when accelerated, decelerated, or constrained to move linearly through a variation in gravitational potential. The Häfele-Keating experiment is not a failure for relativity theory, but the question should be asked: Is time itself dilated, or are internal processes merely altered by moving through a gravitational field? Metaphysically speaking, we do not consider this to be a distinction without a difference.


Another problem with relativity theory concerns the timeline of events and simultaneity. Given two equidistant lightning flashes A and B as viewed by a stationary observer, an unintended consequence of Einstein’s theory demands that flash A must occur before flash B for some moving observers and flash B prior to flash A for other moving observers. But both scenarios simply can not be true. This is not just a visual perception issue because time itself is alleged to change differently for different observers. According to a Minkowski diagram, this is a true timeline of events! This is a logical inconsistency.

Newton’s Third Law

There are other unintended consequences lurking inside Einstein’s theory. It is accepted that Newton’s Third Law is violated, although this has never been proven in the laboratory. According to modern physics, for every action, there is no longer an equal and opposite reaction! This has the somewhat embarrassing consequence that, under certain situations, normally aligned forces that are equal and opposite become offset slightly from one another. When the forces are no longer joined along a common line of action, a torque is created. In relativity theory inertial frames can mysteriously begin to rotate. This effect has been given a name, Thomas Rotation, to impart a degree of respectability. Staunch relativists take note: An experiment was performed to determine whether Thomas Rotation really exists on macro-sized objects. It produced a null result.13,14 There is also a theoretical basis for refutation of Thomas Rotation.15 (The question of Newton’s Third Law is vital to the realm of electrodynamics, so much so that we are dedicating a future issue of IE to longitudinal Ampère forces and Weber’s electrodynamics.) The mainstream is quick to say that "Newton’s Third Law does not extend into the relativistic regime. So what if relativity theory is messy? The truth behind Nature may not be pretty. It may not even be comprehensible." Possibly. . .

Aether-based Theories

But what about alternative theories? Are they better? And what of aether-based theories? High school science students are conditioned to ridicule the concept of a nineteenth-century luminiferous aether with eye-rolling and giggling. But is this really a contemptible idea when compared with the "new and improved" terminology of gravitational masses "warping" the fabric of "space-time"? Sounds a little like an über-aether in another guise. Given that the nothingness of a perfect absolute vacuum is bestowed with the physical properties of a permittivity, eo8.854 pF/m, a permeability, mo4p x 10-7 H/m, and a characteristic impedance of 377 ohms, is the concept of an aether really that outlandish?

Unentrained Aether

We will banish the term "aether" in due course, but let’s take a closer look at this much maligned substance, given its historical importance to the whole question of the speed of light. To be certain, the 1887 Michelson-Morley (M-M) null-result disproved the concept of an unentrained aether. An unentrained aether would be totally unaffected by a gravitational field. The Earth would glide effortlessly through it without dragging any of it along, by virtue of the Earth’s gravitational pull. From a scientist’s perspective, an unentrained aether would come blowing through the laboratory like a hurricane with a velocity of the Earth’s speed of revolution around the Sun (30 km/sec). And like the passing eye of a hurricane, the aether-wind would reverse direction twice each day as the Earth rotated on its axis. At 0.01% of c the M-M experiment was certainly sensitive enough to detect such an aether-wind, and a small non-null result was found, but not to the level expected for an unentrained aether.

Partially Entrained Aether

You won’t find them mentioned in a mainstream physics text, but there are aether theories that are perfectly compatible with the M-M (almost) null-result. Suppose for a moment that the aether is partially entrained. Such a substance would be attracted by the Earth’s gravitational pull, and therefore would be denser at the Earth’s surface than at higher altitudes. This aether would have a density distribution with altitude that is not unlike that of the Earth’s atmospheric density. Under these circumstances, the partially entrained aether would be traveling almost as fast, almost keeping pace with the Earth’s tangential speed of revolution around the Sun. So from the perspective of the Earth-bound laboratory, the relative velocity between the Earth and the aether would be arbitrarily small, certainly well below 30 km/sec. And if the speed of light is constant with respect to a medium such as the aether, then in this instance a null-result would be expected, given the limited sensitivity of the M-M experiment.

This partially entrained aether would be dragged along with the Earth like an invisible atmospheric coating, but it would not rotate along with the Earth about its axis (the Earth’s rotational velocity being ~0.35 km/sec at mid-latitudes). Put another way, the Earth would revolve within this aether shell. But why would there be no rotation of the aether along with the Earth? It is true that the Earth revolves within its own gravitational and magnetic fields, but these fields do not rotate with the Earth. They are generated and released to propagate outward as a symmetrical Earth rotates away from underneath. If the fields did rotate, imagine the spiraling entanglement that would be encountered at some distance out. (Likewise, the magnetic field of a cylindrical bar magnet does not rotate when the bar magnet is rotated about its (long) z-axis. This is the source of much consternation and amusement to students when demonstrating a Faraday unipolar generator.) The M-M experiment was not sensitive enough to prove or disprove the concept of a partially entrained aether, although it did detect a small fraction of a fringe shift contrary to the history books.

To reveal the Earth’s rotation at work, a more sensitive version of the experiment was needed. This quest resulted in the Michelson-Gale (and Pearson) experiment of 1925, a massive interferometer experiment spread over fifty acres outside of Chicago.16 The experiment detected a fringe shift of 0.236 of one fringe due to the Earth’s rotation, in agreement with aether theory and within the limits of observational error. This was a successful outcome for an aether-based theory, but it was not considered a failure of Einstein’s relativity, because the rotating Earth is not considered to be an inertial frame of reference. Special relativity doesn’t apply here. General relativity must come to the rescue, and the analysis is not without controversy. Relativists consider this a Sagnac-type of experiment17 in a rotating (non-inertial) frame of reference. (Also see IE #39, p. 24.)

So far, we have at least two competing theories: a partially entrained aether and Einstein’s relativity. Both can explain the results of the Michelson-Morley and Michelson-Gale experiments, the Sagnac effect, (and the Häfele-Keating experiment). But we need a tie-breaking experiment for it is not good enough to merely come up with an alternative theory. We need a decisive blow.

Galactic Drift

In addition to the Earth’s revolution about the Sun, our entire solar system has a galactic velocity component. A very sensitive and precise aether drift experiment might be able to detect this component if conducted at higher altitudes to lessen the slowing effects to a partially entrained aether. Although it is not reported in the textbooks, such an experiment was performed by Dayton Miller18 during the mid-1920s on a mountain top near the Mt. Wilson observatory. The experiment was an utter marvel of science, performed with exquisite care and precision over a period of several years. (See the excellent article by James DeMeo in IE #38 describing the Miller interferometry experiment.)

Miller concluded that the Earth was drifting towards an apex in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere, towards Dorado, the swordfish, right ascension 4 hrs. 54 min., declination of –70° 33’, in the middle of the Great Magellanic Cloud and 7° from the southern pole of the ecliptic. He measured an aether-drift of about 10 km/sec at the location of his interferometer. From this he assumed the Earth was moving through a partially entrained aether which reduced its velocity from 200 km/sec in space, to about 10 km/sec nearer to the surface. This experimental result agrees with the concept of a partially entrained aether. More importantly, this is the tie-breaking experiment that relativity theory cannot explain.

It is believed that Miller’s careful work over a period of some twenty years cast a shadow of doubt over Einstein’s relativity theory and prevented Einstein from receiving a Nobel Prize for his work on relativity. (Einstein did receive a Nobel Prize, but it was for his work on the photoelectric effect.)

But is the Miller experiment correct? Have his results been duplicated in recent times? The answer is both yes and no. Experiments were performed by Silvertooth19-21 starting in 1985. He pointed out that interferometer experiments average the round-trip speed of light—they do not measure the one-way speed of light. If there is a change in the forward and backward velocities of light such that it is exactly (c + v) in one direction and (c – v) in the other, then the values will simply average out to c. This will occur regardless of interferometer orientation, and after all, it is the one-way speed of light that we really want to know. (Also see IE #40, p. 64.)

Silvertooth measured the standing waves formed by light beamed in opposite directions using two lasers. One of the lasers was phase modulated with respect to the other, creating certain phase effects that could be measured with a special photomultiplier tube. Silvertooth found a consistently privileged direction pointing to the constellation Leo, traveling at a velocity of 378 km/sec regardless of the time of day or year. Manning22 independently analyzed Silvertooth’s approach and pronounced it sound, though not without possible minor flaws. Manning recommended accepting "something that is very difficult to explain." Later, Silvertooth and Whitney23 confirmed the results with another experiment in 1992.

This is not a confirmation of the Miller experiment because Silvertooth’s velocity vector points in a different direction than did Miller’s. Silvertooth also calculated a velocity of 378 km/sec, versus Miller’s estimate of 200 km/sec. If there is an error hidden in Silvertooth’s work (or in Miller’s), it would be very peculiar that he would always find his apparatus divining the same direction in the sky, independent of the time of day and season of the year. This is a remarkable and interesting experiment, whatever the cause.

It should be noted that Silvertooth published his results prior to the launch of NASA’s COBE satellite, whose purpose was to accurately measure the cosmic microwave background. Due to the motion of our solar system, a Doppler shift was discovered which imparts a slight anisotropy to the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background. Precise measurement of this anisotropy indicates that the heliocentric (Sun centered) frame moves toward the constellation Leo with a velocity of 390 km/sec, in excellent agreement with Silvertooth’s findings. (We hope to have a Silvertooth article in an upcoming issue.)

In 1991 another experiment appeared to confirm a galactic velocity component of the aether. Roland DeWitte carried out an experiment in Belgium involving two cesium clocks separated by 1.5 kilometers along a common meridian. A 5 MHz RF signal was generated from each cesium time-base. This produced two independent, but identical signals to within the limits of cesium clock drift. A long length of buried coaxial cable was used to send one of the RF signals down to the other end for comparison using a phase detector. DeWitte ran the experiment over a considerable time span of 178 days.

The results indicated that an anomalous phase shift was present in the data, correlated to sidereal, not civil, time. With a period of 23 hours 56 minutes ± 25seconds (one sidereal day), this proved that the effect responsible for the phase shift was of galactic, not man-made, origin. It would be very interesting to repeat this experiment and also include a round-trip measurement to see if a null-result would be obtained due to round-trip averaging.

Less precise measurements were made using a 500 meter cable and rubidium clocks by Torr and Kolen at NIST.24 They observed an unexplained one-way phase shift which disappeared from the complete round-trip measurement. These one-way results are not predicted by Einstein’s theory, and it is hard to think of another mechanism or artifact correlated to sidereal time that would cause the results seen by DeWitte—certainly not thermal heating or human activity, which would be correlated to a mean solar day (24 hours).

A Gravity-based Theory

Do the aether theories sound artificial and contrived? Yes, as a matter of fact they do, almost as much as FitzGerald’s length contraction, which was incorporated directly into Einstein’s relativity. There is, however, another theory that does not rely on the concept of an aether, but is very closely aligned with the aether theories discussed thus far. The late Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering Petr Beckmann proposed25 that the outdated term "aether" could be replaced with the more modern term "gravity." Clearly, a gravitational field would have characteristics very similar to a partially entrained aether. Both would cause the bending of light rays. Gravity would be strongest near the surface of the planet where the partially entrained aether was most dense. Light would still behave in the same manner, if the speed of light is constant with respect to the source of the dominant gravitational field. This would square with all of the known experimental data because in nearly every case, the observer has always been tied to the Earth-bound frame of reference—so we substitute the word "gravity" for the word "aether." Obviously gravity exists and we know that, although gravity is "emitted" by the Earth, it does not rotate with it. So this is a very plausible replacement for a partially entrained aether. It also stands to reason if we speculate that light is actually a disturbance in the gravitational field.

To be fair, we must play devil’s advocate with Beckmann’s theory. The double-star evidence is often used to discount alternative theories such as this one. Consider a binary star system revolving around its common center of mass, located a considerable distance from Earth. According to Beckmann’s theory, each star emits light at a velocity of c with respect to the source of its own gravitational field. Given the proper orientation in the ecliptic with respect to the center of mass, the velocity of light initially emitted is c + v from one star and c – v from the other (assuming a tangential velocity of revolution, v, for both stars). As each star revolves about the other, their roles will reverse as will the sinusoidal ± v light speed component from each. Although small at first, if any difference in velocity were to remain in effect over the years or centuries it would take for the two sources of starlight to reach the Earth, the slower light from one star (at a given point in their revolution) would never catch up with faster light from the other star, even if given a slight head start due to fortuitous positioning. This would cause peculiar visual effects on Earth that astronomers simply do not observe—unusual Doppler shifts and other anomalies.

But there is more to Beckmann’s theory. The gravitational fields of the two stars will, of course, merge into one combined field at a suitable distance from their common center of mass, and the light from the two stars will transition to a common value of c. This, however, is not the end of the story. As the starlight traverses the heavens, it will speed up and slow down so as to always propagate at the speed of light with respect to whatever source of gravitational field it encounters. Upon entering our solar system, the starlight will transition to a heliocentric frame of reference, and upon encountering the Earth’s gravitational field, it will adjust once again to speed c with respect to our own reference frame. This is definitely heresy—the two sources of starlight will indeed travel with two different speeds initially, before stabilizing at a common velocity. And this velocity will change as the starlight enters our own solar system, and change yet again as it enters the gravitational pull of the Earth. The speed of transition will, of course, be gradual as one gravitational field yields to another more dominant field in its local neighborhood. This is an intriguing "make-sense" theory, not only because it replaces the partially entrained aether theory described earlier, but because it also squares with the Pioneer 10 and 11 deep-space radio data (and probably with the Venus radar data from the 1960s). (Also see IE #52, pp. 33, 36.)

Speed of Light in Deep Space

Evidence has surfaced that the speed of light is not c in deep space, based on satellite data from Pioneer 10 and 11. Launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively, radio signals received from these satellites contain an "anomalous" Doppler shift. Renshaw26 showed that this can be explained by assuming classical Newtonian mechanics for the Doppler-shifted radio signal in a heliocentric frame of reference. Staunch relativists take note: Here is a clear case, for both satellites, where classical theory gives the correct answer, but relativistic corrections lead to the wrong results. Einstein’s relativity cannot explain this result, and indeed, it is the cause of the problem in the first place! After some head-scratching by mainstream scientists, the mystery was attributed to a possible "anomalous" acceleration (new physics!) of 8.0 x 10-8 cm/sec2, directed toward the Sun—for both spacecraft.

That the speed of light is not constant in interplanetary space was first suspected by the late Bryan G. Wallace. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, MIT Lincoln Laboratory operated a series of high-power radio transmitters spread across the United States. Technically, these sites held a SECRET classification during the height of the Cold War and the Space-Race, even though the researchers were doing pure science. (Perhaps they also played a role in the study of ionospheric disruption effects caused by thermonuclear test shots in the Pacific, and the magnetic-conjugate excitation studies using high-altitude nuclear detonations in the Southern Atlantic.) At one site near El Campo, Texas, the transmitter was extremely high power, 500 kilowatts, operating in the low VHF range (38.25 MHz). Enormous water-cooled vacuum tubes were used to generate the RF energy. An 8 by 128 array of 1,024 dipole antennas boosted the gain so that the effective radiated power, focused into the main lobe, was in excess of 1,300 megawatts (yes, 1.3 gigawatts).

Personnel at the site activated warning sirens and red flashing lights prior to "keying" the transmitter. This was done to make certain that no one was caught by surprise out in the antenna array, which covered over nine acres. Sometimes the "cooked" remains of rabbits and possums were found by maintenance personnel after a data gathering session, and this served as a somber demonstration of what could happen. It was possible to place a fluorescent bulb anywhere in the transmitter building where illumination was needed—it would glow by itself while the transmitter was "on." Site personnel quickly learned not to prop their feet up on the control console, as this would cause their shoes to heat-up. These powerful beacons made it possible to conduct radar studies of Venus, Mars, and also the Sun’s corona.

During this time Wallace discovered that radar data for the planet Venus did not confirm the constancy of the speed of light. Alarmed and intrigued by these results, he noticed systematic variations in the data with diurnal and lunar-synodic components. He attempted to publish the results in Physical Review Letters, but he encountered considerable resistance. His analysis indicated a heretical "c + v" Galilean fit to the data, so as a result, he had no alternative but to publish elsewhere.27

To say that Wallace was less than tactful would be something of an understatement. He made heated claims28 that NASA had noticed the very same results and was using non-relativistic correction factors to calculate signal transit times. He also claimed that, despite his repeated requests, MIT Lincoln Lab refused to share the raw data from the Venus radar studies with him—that they were part of a government conspiracy to keep the Soviets in the dark about the true nature of the speed of light! He said that, what little data he did get, had been deliberately chosen to make it impossible for him to do the necessary computations. He also published a book describing his experiences, available on the web29 at no charge. Wallace was a colorful figure and a champion of a noble cause. It is well worth the time invested to read about his incredible story.

Acausal Absorber Theory

As a young physicist, Dr. Tom Phipps exchanged correspondence with Albert Einstein related to ways of improving quantum mechanics. In his article for this issue (p. 14, IE #59), he describes a hypothetical conversation between a critic of Relativity theory and Einstein himself, looking back on his legacy.

Phipps’ acausal absorber theory holds promise for bridging the gap between the quantum world and light speed behavior. In his theory, the speed of light is constant with respect to the absorber (the detector). In his outstanding text30 Phipps starts with some of the original ideas of Heinrich Hertz and proposes a modification to Maxwell’s Equations to make them invariant to the Galilean transformation. Starting with Maxwell’s Equations in free-space (and MKSA units) we have:

A simple modification is made involving a straightforward change from partial derivatives, , to total-time derivatives, d/dt, to account for a moving frame of reference. This is then expanded using the chain-rule in Faraday’s and Ampère’s Laws, and also for the charge conservation equation. This has the excellent effect of adding a velocity parameter, v, into the equations for use with moving inertial frames:

Phipps has also proposed a tie-breaking experiment which can decide between SRT and his theory. This sheds some light on why experiment has not yet determined a winner among the various theories mentioned. Using the more traditional technologies, experiments at first-order are often difficult to do, and experiments at second-order are impossible. However, recent advances in interferometry, specifically Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), permit angular resolutions of better than 10-9 radian. This could make it possible to either verify or refute Einstein’s prediction of a second-order departure from the classical Bradley aberration of starlight. Unfortunately, astronomers seem unaware of this possibility and physicists take the result for granted. Phipps’ theory predicts only a third-order (as yet unobservable) departure from Bradley aberration, and therefore allows for the possibility of refutation by a tie-breaking experiment.

Modified Lorentz Ether Gauge Theory

The mainstream authorities are fond of saying that GPS would not work if it weren’t for Einstein’s relativity. Clifford Will of Washington University has been quoted31 as saying:

    SR has been confirmed by experiment so many times that it borders on crackpot to say there is something wrong with it. Experiments have been done to test SR explicitly. The world’s particle accelerators would not work if SR wasn’t in effect. The global positioning system would not work if special relativity didn’t work the way we thought it did.

Oh really? What does one of the world’s foremost experts on GPS have to say about relativity theory and the Global Positioning System? Ronald R. Hatch is the Director of Navigation Systems at NavCom Technology and a former president of the Institute of Navigation. As he describes in his article for this issue (p. 25, IE #59), GPS simply contradicts Einstein’s theory of relativity. His Modified Lorentz Ether Gauge Theory (MLET) has been proposed32 as an alternative to Einstein’s relativity. It agrees at first order with relativity but corrects for certain astronomical anomalies not explained by relativity theory. (Also see IE #39, p. 14.)

No Relativity Principle?

Although Newton was not comfortable with the term "absolute space," his First Law (inertial reaction) is relative to absolute space or another reference frame moving at a constant velocity with respect to absolute space. Ernst Mach proposed that absolute space was in reality the "distant fixed-stars." In a similar vein to some of the ideas proposed by Mach, Lévy postulates33 that the relativity principle is wrong—that there may be some ultimate preferred frame of reference in the Universe for which the speed of light is constant. If true, then all inertial frames are not created equal. Lévy proposes the idea of a preferred universal inertial frame of reference in which the aether is truly at rest. This is, in effect, the antithesis of Einstein’s first postulate. Lévy’s textbook is reviewed on p. 42 in this issue.

Ballistic Theory

For good reason, no mention has been made of the ballistic theory by Walter Ritz, in which the speed of light is constant with respect to the speed of the emitting source, as in (vs + c). In a poll, this would most likely be the theory of choice by the "man in the street," where the speed of light is expected to behave like a baseball hit off a swinging bat or projectiles fired from a moving tank. It is also the antithesis of Einstein’s second postulate.

Although the ballistic theory is compatible with the M-M null result and the double-star evidence, it was disproved by additional experimentation, e.g., References 34 and 35. These carefully planned experiments were performed in vacuum with surface reflecting mirrors only, and no lenses of any sort. This was done to prevent photon absorption and regeneration from "resetting" any additional imparted speed to that of the last medium’s surface.


A few overzealous proponents of Einstein’s theory have gone so far as to suggest the possibility of time-travel by exceeding the speed of light. If only this were true. . .

I’d go back in time and pin a medal on Mr. Hippie’s chest.


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