The re-examination of Miller’s interferometric observations and of Esclangon’s observations

By Jean-Bernard DELOLY

Maurice Allais rescued from oblivion certain previous observations, identifying besides several aspects of them which had not been found by the original researchers: the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller at Mount Wilson (1925-1926), and the optical observations of Ernest Esclangon at the Strasbourg Observatory (1926-1927).

These two series of observations stand out by the fact that of all the observations carried out prior to 1930 (after which the ascendancy of the theory of relativity over the scientific community was so overwhelming as to make it practically impossible to call into question the principle of the constancy of the speed of light) they were the only ones spread over a period of about a year: all the others had been one-off observations or at most series of measurements spaced over a few days.

Chapter IV of Allais’s “L’Anisotropie de l’Espace” (Editions Clément Juglar, 1997, 757 p.) [The Anisotropy of Space, english translation by Thomas J. Goodey, René Verreault, Arjen Dijksman, 2019, L’Harmattan]  is devoted to this re-examination of the observations of Miller and Esclangon.

1 – The interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller

1-1 Their crucial importance.

▪ Of all the interferometric observations conducted since Michelson’s historic observation of 1881, those of Dayton C. Miller, in 1925-1926 have been the most complete.

Michel Gendrot’s presentation made to the “Colloque Maurice Allais” on 22nd May 2006 puts them back in context (Click HERE).

Their findings were published by Dayton C. Miller (“The Ether-Drift experiment and the determination of the absolute motion of the Earth” – Dayton C. Miller, Review of Modern Physics, vol. 5, July 1933).

The most remarkable point was the existence of sidereal diurnal variations (period  23 h 56 min) in the speed of light, of amplitude of about 8 km/h.

This invalidated the postulate of the invariance of the speed of light which is the basis of the theory of special relativity and therefore cast doubt on that theory, as indeed Albert Einstein himself admitted in a communication to the magazine Science of 31st July 1925:

If Dr. Miller’s results should be confirmed, then the special relativity theory, and with it the general theory in its present form, fails. Experiment is the supreme judge. Only the equivalence of inertia and weight remain, which would lead to an essentially different theory.” (Albert Einstein – Science – New Series, Vol. 62, n° 1596, 31st July 1925, p. viii)

▪ This is why these observations were so sensitive, and gave rise at the time to heated debates, in the course of which Miller was able to refute all the arguments advanced by his gainsayers. Yet this did not lead to a reassessment of the theory of relativity, for its hold was already too strong.

Thus, despite never having been convincingly refuted, Miller’s observations have gradually been forgotten.

R. S. Shankland’s 1955 article published in the Review of Modern Physics (“New analysis of the Interferometer Observations of Dayton C. Miller”, R. S. Shankland, Review of Modern Physics, vol. 27, number 2, April 1955), concluding that the fringe shifts detected were simply due to temperature gradients in the room housing the interferometer, enabled them to be almost universally dismissed: an allusion to an article which had appeared in a front-ranking review was enough, and replaced substantive critical evaluation.

Miller, who died in 1941, was no longer there to defend himself.

1-2 Their re-analysis by Maurice Allais

▪ Making use of the data provided by Miller’s article (via digitization of the curves it includes), Maurice Allais discovered the presence of further highly significant patterns of regularity which alone suffice practically to exclude any explanation based on temperature. He further shows that Miller’s own interpretation of these variations in the speed of light (they were due to the motion of the Earth in space) cannot be retained or, at any rate, cannot be retained alone.

▪ The results of this research by Maurice Allais were published:

  • in an article in “la Jaune et la Rouge” (August-September 1996, pp. 29-37 and repeated in the review “Fusion”, January-February 1998, pp. 39-46): “Les expériences de Dayton C. Miller et la Théorie de la relativité” [The experiments of Dayton C. Miller and the Theory of relativity];
  • in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences (session of 15th October 1999 ; 2 communications):

Des régularités très significatives dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926” [Highly significant regularities in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926] (Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences, vol. 327, série II b, pp. 1405-1410)

“Nouvelles régularités très significatives dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926” [New highly significant regularities in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926] (Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences, vol. 327, série II b, p. 1411-1418)

▪ They were the subject of discussion in the pages of “la Jaune et la Rouge”:

  • in an article (April 1997) bringing together readers’ comments: “Réponses à Maurice Allais: Discussion des expériences de Miller” [Replies to Maurice Allais: discussion of the Miller experiments]: Click HERE
  • in two new articles by Maurice Allais (June-July 1997, pp. 43-50 and August-September 1997, p. 69-77): “Les expériences de Dayton C. Miller, 1925-1926” [The experiments of Dayton C. Miller, 1925-1926] (Click HERE), etLa théorie de la relativité. Réponses aux observations des lecteurs[The Theory of Relativity. Replies to readers comments] (Click HERE)

▪ They were also the subject of two other communications in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences:

  • A communication from Roger Balian (2000), which disputes the validity of Miller’s observations:
    Remarques sur les notes de Maurice Allais: Des régularités très significatives dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926; Nouvelles régularités très significatives dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926 » [Remarks on the notes of Maurice Allais: Highly significant regularities in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926; New highly significant regularities in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926].
    (Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences, vol. 1, série IV, pp. 249-250, 2000)
  • In a final communication addressed to the Académie des Sciences (2000), Maurice Allais refutes all the critiques that have been put forward as to the essential conclusions of Miller’s research (that optical space displays anisotropy), from Shankland (1955) to date: “The origin of the regularities detected in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926: temperature variations or anisotropy of space?” (Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences, vol. 1, série IV, pp. 1205-1209, 2000)

▪ A final article by Maurice Allais in “la Jaune et la Rouge” for October 2003 completes his 1997 article by incorporating elements which had appeared in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences:

Des régularités extraordinaires et irréfragables dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller, 1925-1926; l’effondrement radical et définitif de la théorie de la relativité” [Extraordinary and irrefutable regularities in the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller, 1925-1926 – The radical and definitive collapse of the theory of relativity] (Click HERE)

▪ Maurice Allais combined the findings of his research with the exchanges to which they had given rise in a work published in 2004 by the Éditions Clément Juglar: “L’Effondrement de la théorie de la Relativité – Implication irréfragable des données de l’expérience” [The collapse of the theory of relativity – Irrefutable implication of the empirical data].

▪ In another work also published by Clément Juglar, in 2005, he suggested an interpretation of Michelson’s interferometric observations:
Sur l’Interprétation des Observations Interférométriques de Michelson – Les Données de l’Expérience – Aucun vent d’éther de 30 km/sec, mais un vent d’éther de 8 km/sec – Une extraordinaire vérification” [On the interpretation of the interferometric observations of Michelson – the empirical data – no 30 km/sec ether wind but an ether wind of 8 km/sec – an extraordinary verification]

▪Direct analysis of R.S. Shankland’s 1955 article explaining Miller’s findings in terms of temperature gradients in the premises in which the interferometer was housed reveals outright bias. See in particular: “Should the Laws of Gravitation Be Reconsidered? The Scientific Legacy of Maurice Allais” – 2011 – Apeiron – Montreal – Hector A. Munera, editor ; J. DeMeo’s study, “Dayton C. Miller revisited”.

To reach this conclusion it is sufficient to study attentively the Shankland’s article together with Dayton C. Miller’s 1933 report.

Particularly, without probably its author was aware of it, this article provides information which, in combination with that given by Miller himself, clearly shows that Miller had indeed succeeded in ensuring that his interferometer was unaffected by local temperature gradients.

2 – The observations of Ernest Esclangon

Between 25th February 1927 and 9th January 1928 Ernest Esclangon carried out, at the Strasbourg Observatory, a programme of optical observations following a very different procedure from that which had been almost exclusively used until then in interferometric observations. It was as follows:

a) a refracting telescope placed in the horizontal plane facing north-west, autocollimation is used to cause a horizontal thread located at the focus of the telescope to coincide with its image reflected on a mirror that is integrated with the telescope. The angular displacement required for this coincidence is denoted by c.

b) Turning the device to face north-east, the operation is repeated. The angular displacement required to obtain the coincidence this time is denoted by c'. The magnitude whose evolution has been monitored over time is (c-c').

These observations comprised 40 000 sightings carried out by day as well as by night and divided into 150 series. The published reports included, in addition to a detailed description of the equipment used, the values for (c-c') for each series and the average temperature during each series as well as temperature evolution over each series.

By adopting the standpoint of sidereal time, Ernest Esclangon had detected a sidereal diurnal periodic component, whereas nothing in particular emerged when solar time was adopted.

He published his findings:

  • in a communication to the Académie des Sciences: “Sur la dissymétrie optique de l’espace et les lois de la réflexion” [On the optical dissymetry of space and the laws of reflection] (27th December 1927): Click HERE
  • in the April 1928 issue of the “Journal des Observateurs”, in which he also provided the experimental data collected: “Sur l’existence d’une dissymétrie optique de l’espace” [On the existence of dissymmetry of space]. 

In making use of these data, Maurice Allais established the presence, in addition to the sidereal diurnal component, of at least one long periodic component (estimated on the basis of a rapid analysis to be half-yearly).