On an Experimentum Crucis for Optics
Year: 2010 Pages: 9
Keywords: aether, light, sound, longitudinal waves, transverse waves, polarization
Formulated almost 150 years ago, Thomas Young's hypothesis that light might be a transverse wave has never been seriously questioned, much less subjected to experiment. In this article I report on an attempt to prove experimentally that Young's hypothesis is untenable. Although it has certain limitations, the experiment seems to show that sound in air, a longitudinal wave, can be polarized by reflection just like light, and this can be used as evidence against Young's hypothesis. Further refinements of the experimental setup may yield clearer results, making this report useful to those interested in the important issue of whether light is a transverse or a longitudinal wave.