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The State of Experimental Evidence for Length Contraction

Jack Redver Harris
Year: 2002
The idea that physical objects become shorter as they move is now well established in physical theory. Both the classical theories of Lorentz, Larmor, Fitzgerald and Poincare and the more radical special theory of relativity of Einstein incorporate a physical length contraction into their worldview. However, no direct measurement of length contraction has ever been done. One experiment that tried to observe the effect of a length contraction was done by Sherwin, who found no evidence of a length contraction. This paper will analyze the assumptions underlying Sherwin's experiment to show that Sherwin's experiment is in fact equivocal concerning the existence of a length contraction. This paper will also make mention of another important recent observation that has relevance to the issue of the existence of physical length contraction.