Few researchers have the courage to admit it but, after more than a hundred years, the concept of “Aether”, a substance that, according to ancients, fills the vacuum and allows the propagation of electromagnetic waves, still makes sense.
No one will use this term explicitly! It has become so much taboo that many alias has been created to avoid it! “Quantum vacuum”, “dark matter”, “dark flow”, “gravity loop”, “universe as a quantum computer”, “empty superfluid”,… even after the recent confirmation of last Einstein’s general theory of relativity, by the discovery of the gravity waves, thus confirming that we are in presence of a vacuum not really completely empty!
So if there is something filling the empty what is it made of? A good candidate is some kind of superfluid, which has the capacity to adapt constantly to the environment. As a superfluid, vacuum will allows object to fluctuate in one direction without loosing almost any quantity of movement, such it maintains the speed and direction unchanged over time. Yet, this substance can be quantified and characterized by constant like its electromagnetic permittivity: the waves spreading out of magnets or a current are moving through this medium, being “shielded” at a constant rate across the vacuum.
Even the gravity is being spread out through the universe, thanks to Aether! What would happen if, suddenly, the sun disappear from his position? Would the Earth and the other object instantly move straight in from of them, or would they keep turning around its position for some more time? The correct answer is the second option, because as the gravity is moving through space at the speed of light, it will take some time before we get to stop receiving the waves emitted before it disappear; for instance, for the Earth, it would take about 8 minutes before we realize. Some experiments conducted recently, with a detector of gravitational waves, the GEO600, confirmed that the vacuum can be quantified, and the underlying theory expressed by Craig Hogan and Stewen Hawking. In these experiments it was noted the presence of a noise which couldn’t be eliminated and has prevented to obtain reliable results, and to make any valid measurement of gravitational waves, despite the various efforts made to filter the noise out.
The conclusion was that the noise was not due to the instrument but to the intrinsic nature of the vacuum.
Now Aether, for the ancient, was one of the primordial deities; the personification of the upper sky. In Homeric Greek, Aether means “pure, fresh air” or “clear sky”. In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals.
I’m always returning to the fact that our modern discoveries appeared someone not completely unknown to our ancestors… but what do you think? Isn’t it a matter of fact that we are slowly but certainly converging to this direction?