Speed of Light Experiment

$1,155 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 6 people in 6 months
Created October 13, 2018
This experiment will test The Theory of Relativity under previously untried conditions. The relevance of these untried conditions is not currently recognized by the physics community but is consistent with experiments published in mainstream physics journals. This experiment will attempt to unambiguously demonstrate that such conditions affect its results. 


A tale of two theories and one experiment:

Æther Theory
Æther was a hypothesized medium filling all space. In this theory, light was explained as a wave traveling in the Æther. This theory was falsified by the famous Michelson-Morley experiment in 1887.

The Michelson-Morley Experiment
This experiment directly measures the difference in the speed of light in two perpendicular directions using interferometry. By making many such measurements in many different directions, the Michelson-Morley experiment can determine the speed and direction of a purported Æther past the Earth, as the Earth moves around the Sun. Wikipedia has a list of key Michelson-Morley and closely related experiments here .

Relativity Theory
Special Relativity, published by Einstein in 1905, provides fundamental rules to account for space and time at high velocities. It was consistent with the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment. Relativity was deemed incompatible with Æther because there is a unique frame associated with the Æther, and a unique frame of reference is disallowed by relativity.

Summary of all Michelson-Morley experiments' results:
No Michelson-Morley experiment has supported the Æther theory. The Michelson-Morley experiments almost all support Relativity—some with astonishing accuracy.

Dayton Miller’s Experiment

The main exception is a single, large scale Michelson-Morley experiment by Dayton Miller (1933) that was not consistent with either Relativity or Æther Theory. While it was disparaged as a single discrepant experiment, this experiment included well over 100,000 readings by eye, probably more than all such experiments of that era put together. I consider Miller's experiment to be valid, despite some analyses to the contrary. For example, see this .

Miller's experimental results and the results of others are contradictory. Since there is so much evidence supporting Relativity, asserting that Relativity is wrong would fly in the face of overwhelming evidence. However, Relativity would need some kind of correction or extension if Miller's results are valid.


There are two approaches to deal with contradictory experimental results: 1) find error(s) in the contradictory experiment, or 2) find experimental variable(s) that explain the differences in results.

The physics community chose the first approach, to discredit Miller's experiment (Shankland, 1955 ). Given that choice, Relativity explained all (remaining) experiments.

But what if approach number 2 can explain Miller’s results? To test this, we need to understand experimental variable(s)  that can be controlled, either at the beginning or during an experiment.

I looked for experimental variables that could affect Michelson-Morley experimental results, which are present in Miller’s experiment but not controlled or even recorded in traditional Michelson-Morley setups.

I found two potential variables. They are both characteristics of the light path.  The light path begins at a laser; it is split into two rays that go through two perpendicular arms; it is interferometrically recombined, and it ends at a photodetector. The variables and their effects are:

1.     path length: the length of the arm/straight light path. I hypothesize that greater path lengths tend to violate relativity.
2.     path density: The (optical, mass) density of the light path. I hypothesize that greater path densities tend to violate Relativity.

Based on this, a long path length and large path density in a Michelson-Morley experiment should lead to a violation of Relativity.

Today, we have advanced materials that may help. For instance, optical fiber can be used to form the light path of a Michelson-Morley experiment. It has the desired high density, thanks to its glass core. Furthermore, it can be arranged in long lengths without a rigid apparatus to hold in place mirrors, which were used in earlier experiments.


This GoFundMe project proposes to perform a modern version of the Michelson-Morley experiment
called FOMMX. FOMMX stands for Fiber Optic Michelson-Morley eXperiment. FOMMX will have an arm length/straight path length of five meters. The path density will be determined by the particular optical fiber chosen.

The Goal
The goal of this project is to: develop apparatus, software, and manual procedures for FOMMX; operate the apparatus to collect data and save the data in a public repository; analyze the collected data for periodic patterns; and publish the results.

Cost Analyses
A first detailed study of component costs was $7,500. Based on that I started the project in earnest at the beginning of 2018. My current (Oct., 2018) estimate is $8,500.

Current Status of Project
The picture above shows a mechanically complete rotor for the experiment. The rotor comprises two sixteen-foot arms fastened to a square hub at the center. The servo motor driving the rotor has been purchased. Out of sight is a hoist mounted on the ceiling. The motor and hoist have been generously donated.

Immediate Plans
Finish the structural mechanical assemblies. The main one is the motor mount, holding the motor that rotates the rotor containing the arms. This includes a slip ring, a rotary encoder, and a safety chain.

The remaining major areas are:
1       Laser and fiber optic components. I've started collecting specifications and prices for lasers.
2       Computer power, connection to sensors, software. A Raspberry Pi has been donated to this project.

Use of Funds
The funds will be used to cover the costs of the apparatus for the FOMMX.
Cost of test equipment, if necessary.
Cost of engineering assistance, if necessary.

A second interferometer can be added in same arms. There is room in the mechanical structure to fit a second interferometer, mainly its laser and optical fiber. This would enable an additional test for an æther. Since the interferometers would be independent, except for power input, any apparent noise that is cross-correlated must come from the æther, while any non-correlated noise must come from instrumentation. This would be an independent test of the existence of the æther.
Patent filings related to the FOMMX apparatus.


will produce a massive amount of data. It is expected to run for months, and each second
many data points will be measured. The data will be stored in a public repository, making it available
for analysis by the FOMMX team and by outsiders. It is anticipated that a fair amount of effort will be
expended sifting through the data. These analyses may:

1.     Validate or invalidate Miller’s work
2.     Find a subtle æther drift, which has been undetectable before
3.     Measure other disturbances in the speed of light possibly due to things like gravity waves, etc

If any of these findings occur, they will be of interest. Some findings may demonstrate that large path density and path length give results contradicting Special Relativity.

Potential impact on The Theory of Relativity.
Certain findings may indicate that The Theory of Relativity is conditional. If experimental results are dependent upon the path length and path density that are selected by the experimenter, Relativity will have to be modified to accommodate these conditions. This also brings into question the fundamental space-time relationships of Relativity, and while the previous point requires a modification to express the condition, this point requires a fundamental conceptual overhaul of Relativity. A lot could be at stake.


My father, an Electrical Engineering Manager, taught me how to think. I had an amateur radio license by age fifteen. I have a BS in Physics from Penn State. My vocation, from age 22 was computer programming, including IBM, National Semiconductor, E-TRADE and NASA Ames. In my 30's, theoretical physics became my avocation, specifically unified field theory. FOMMX comes out of that theoretical study.

I built a CNC airbrush from stepper motors, DIY motor drivers and a drafting table. The difference between those DIY motion systems and the motor chosen for FOMMX is extreme integration over four decades. All of the electronics to drive the motors; all the software to tune and close the servo loop, develop a desired path, and communicate with a computer; and a rotary encoder to track the motor shaft position are integrated into a metal bump on the back of the motor itself. My DIY system was an engineering project taking months; using the FOMMX motor involved configuration on a modern graphic user interface and took minutes. See the motor here .


Please consider supporting this project with a donation. It has been a long and lonely journey and every donation warms my heart. Also, please ask anyone who you think might be interested to have a look at this project. If you would like to help on this project in some way, please email me at stevenzins@gmail.com. My web site at zins.org has relevant documents plus contact information.

...Steven Zins
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First DRAFT version of Story posted about 7pm, 10/25/18 for review.
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$1,155 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 6 people in 6 months
Created October 13, 2018
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