These are the essentials of the Galilean Principle of Relativity, although it might be addedthat Galileo himself did not test this principle by experiment. For he states on the following page,
“it did not occur to me to put these observations to the test when I was voyaging.”
Some Relevant Science History leading to the Poincare-Lorentz Theory of Relativity
In 1675, after studying the eclipses of the Jupiter moon Io, which Galileo had discovered,Danish mathematician and astronomer Olaus Romer estimated that the velocity of light was
about 210,000 km/sec (about 90,000 km/sec less than today‟s value).
of 1684, the views of Isaac Newton, who was introduced in Chapter 1,
were in agreement with Galileo‟s Principle of Relativity. Newton also theorized
that visible light
was “corpuscular”, that is to say,
that a light beam was made up of a stream of small particles.In 1801, German physicist and astronomer Johann Georg Soldner (1776-1833) predictedthat the gravitational attraction of a heavenly body would have the effect of slightly bending
starlight that was passing near it. This supported Newton‟
s corpuscular theory of light.However, in 1803, English polymath Thomas Young (1773-1829) conducted the famousdouble-slit experiment, which indicated that light had some wave-like properties.During the n
ineteenth century, “the accumulation of exact knowledge about what Earth is
made of and how it moves had become so large that natural philosophy came to be called
„scientific‟ knowledge, and its specialized practitioners became known as “scientists.‟”
Later experiments, particularly by French scientist Augustin Fresnel,
wave theory of light.
In 1849, French physicist Armand Hippolyte Fizeau (1819-1896), measured the speed of light using a rapidly rotating toothed wheel and a mirror positioned more than five miles away.
He obtained a value of 313,300 km/sec, close to today‟s value of 299,792 km/ sec.
In 1851, Fizeau also found that when a beam of light is passed through flowing water, thevelocity of light is greater when it is flowing downstream with the flow, and lesser when it isflowing upstream against the flow.Beginning in the 1850s, a young Cambridge scientist J. Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) (right) brought together the research of earlierscientists, such as Faraday and Ampere, and conducted many experiments of his own with electricity and magnetism. He found that electric and magneticfields travel through space in the form of waves approximately at the speed of light as it was then known. Because his estimate of the speed of theelectromagnetic field was so close to the estimated velocity of light, hesuggested that light was an electromagnetic wave. This observation supportedthe theory that light was a w
ave, not a particle. Maxwell‟s
equations werepublished in 1861 and form the foundation of modern electromagneticengineering and technology.
became a single word, not even
hyphenated.” And consistent with Galileo and Newt
on, and to later developments in science,
Maxwell once observed, “All our knowledge, both of time and place, is essentially relative.”
Thus, scientists came to look upon light as a wave that must be propagated like a wave inwater or like sound. As sound passes through air molecules, scientists theorized that there must
be some kind of a “Luminiferous Aether”
), a finer matter through which