An experiment to measure the absolute motion of the earth

An experiment to measure the absolute motion of the earth

Project 1 Fig 14
In the latest Citizen Scientist Lance Osadchey shows you how to measure the absolute motion of the earth, as Shawn from CS says it “challenges one of the bedrocks of modern science, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity”… so just keep that in mind :)

Since a single light ray is believed to exist in its own space-time and proceed straight ahead in propagation at the speed of light and a laser ray approximates a single light ray, these rays have no, or minimal, lateral or sideways motion. Thus, it should be possible to measure the absolute motion of the Earth by (1) comparing the position of the light ray on any material object moving with the Earth, and (2) knowing the distance from the source of light to the object and the lateral displacement of the impact of the ray of light.


  • A solid, low-vibration table or optical bench.
  • A solid rotating bearing.
  • A rigid beam 3 meters (10 feet) in length (steel, wood or ceramic).
  • A laser with positional holder.
  • An optional series of lenses to retard the laser beam’s intensity.
  • An optional series of lenses to direct and focus the laser beam.
  • A Charged Coupled Device (CCD) to detect the laser beam connected to appropriate circuitry to record the image of the laser on the CCD and to record a series of images of the laser spot’s motion upon the detector.
  • Suitable equipment to analyze the laser spots position on the image from the CCD.

The Citizen Scientist – Link.

24 thoughts on “An experiment to measure the absolute motion of the earth

  1. rdarlington says:

    Somebody didn’t take undergrad physics. There was a test done that was several hundred thousand times more sensitive back in 1887. Shining a laser into CCD imager causes blooming which makes the image pretty useless, not to mention the inherent noise in a CCD element which would prevent this method from being even slightly useful. Yah, I suppose you could attenuate the light significantly but there is still that noise issue.

    The test I’m referring to is called the Michelson-Morley experiment. Please see the Wikipedia article on this here:

    Michelson-Morley Experiment

  2. lentilinux says:

    Without commenting on the validity of the experiment, I will just say that I am unfortunately saddened by this article appearing without a stronger disclaimer.

    It is too easy for verified and unvetted science to become mixed by and presented to amatures without the proper knowlege to either properly accept or reject with proper reasoning such an apparantly bedrock shifting claim.

    Too long can it take a mind to overcome inaccurate or false learning or theory, and the kernel of possible corruption of though is ever present.

    Such an article should be only presented as process and craft in such a forum as this and not as science as it appears to have been highlighted.

    It is not advantageous for the information “consumer be ‘ware” when a marketing a progressing culture of makers when certain dirt is knowingly added to the gears, so to speak, in my humble opinion.

  3. philliptorrone says:

    there’s a gigantic disclaimer on citizen science.

  4. lentilinux says:

    specifically on makezine i mean.

  5. philliptorrone says:

    the entire article isn’t here, it’s sorta useless unless you click the link and we have comments here (thanks for posting some great thoughts) i’m not sure there’s more to “warn” folks about here.

  6. re6smith says:

    Hmmm…don’t I seem to recall that one of the starting principles of the special theory of relativity is that one *cannot* determine one’s own velocity in a reference frame moving at constant velocity?

    Of course, the Earth’s velocity isn’t constant, so perhaps that’s the point here?

    How likely is it that what is really being measured here is noise and heightened geek enthusiasm?

  7. lentilinux says:

    I agree, plus one small smudge can’t harm such this a supa site!

  8. michaeljedelman says:

    It looks like he’s trying to replicate Michaelson-Morely, as noted- but with less accuracy. If I understand his setup, he may be measuring the flex in his apparatus.

  9. Wubby says:

    Following a (incorrectly formatted) link from the Citizen Scienist site, there are only 3 clear images of an actual setup. Assuming a 4×4 piece of wood is rigid enough (big assumption), the CCD (2 Mpx camera) isn’t attached directly to that wood, but is on 3 hunks of 2×4 that look hand cut and screwed down, one on top of the other.

    And the camera looks to not have a remote trigger attached. This means he would have to be touching the camera for each event.

  10. monopole says:

    Been there, done that, to considerably more orders of magnitude. Back in grad school the lab down the hall had a rotating assembly with two atomic clocks and a microwave interferometer performing exquisitely precise measurements of any frame drag or the like.

    Surprisingly, they found a statistically significant variation. The disturbing bit was that the asymmetry was locked to the frame of the earth and not to sidereal motion. One of my friends an urMaker then waved his Jameco magnetized screwdriver over the mixing ferrites and the speed of light suddenly dropped. The instrument was acting as a giant compass!

    The moral is that there have been some incredibly precise measurements of GTR (any secondary effects would be an express ticket to a Nobel) with no variations yet. But on the other hand systematic artifacts can be very easy to encounter.

    As a rule, the existing laws of physics hold, but each revolution refines the laws of the previous one.

  11. 2Short says:

    I think there is more to “warn” people about; or rather, I think there is some responsibility to ensure there is something to it before posting. This is someone doing a crazy-crude reconstruction of a famous experiment, and getting different results. Scores of physicists have done this experiment with better equiptment and gotten the expected result; Barring some compelling evidence otherwise, the assumption on the face of it should be that thais is hogwash. Anyone who went to the trouble to build the thing, and to mention it’s contradiction of modern physics almost certainly knows it is hogwash. It is iresponsible to post such a thing with the title you have and not something with the word “hoax” in it.

    OK, I’m taking a deep breath… calming down… This is just a blog post. You see something apparently cool, you post it, and that’s how it should be. Expecting deeper analysis would slow the high-speed coolness stream I’ve come to love here, and I don’t want that.

    What I’m honestly really annoyed about is the infomercial for irrationality that arrived in the midst of my latest print volume of Make. It got me so upset I haven’t even been able to read the rest of the volume. Rather than complaining about this post because it tangentially aproaches the same sort of problem, I should really go write an angy letter about that article; but of course letters like that traditionally end with a demand to cancel ones subscription, and then I wouldn’t get future issues, and I certainly don’t want that! Sigh.

    Ok, end rant.

  12. philliptorrone says:

    did you read – shawns note? — “I hope that by publishing this paper we will stimulate the community to think, to experiment, and to debate. I look forward to your analysis, your insights and the results of replications of Dr. Osadchey’s work.

    Shawn Carlson, Ph.D. Founder and Executive Director Society for Amateur Scientists ”

    i’m aware that the experiment is what it is, but as shawn noted it’s a good to see someone trying this themselves — that’s part of science. i think i’d rather have people attempt to do things as opposed to just accept everything. that said, i wouldn’t try this one :)


    also, did you read mark’s note in the beginning of MAKE volume 9?

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