Rotating Mössbauer Experiments

The rotating Mössbauer experiments illustrate the importance of understanding clock behavior before attempting to interpret experimental results. Many texts, e.g. Jackson [1], claim that the rotating Mössbauer experiments conclusively prove that ether drift is not present in the laboratory or on the earth. Thus, it is argued that ether theories such as MLET cannot be correct and that SRT is undoubtedly true. This claim is patently false and illustrates poor science, if not deliberate fraud. The claim is dealt with at length in a prior paper [2], but the essence of the argument is repeated here.

Ruderfer [3] was among the first to argue that an ether drift could be detected via a rotating Mössbauer experiment. He reasoned that, if an ether drift were present, it would affect the transit time of gamma rays crossing a spinning disk. The time derivative of the transit time as a function of path direction would appear as a frequency shift in the gamma ray. The extreme precision of the Mössbauer effect would allow this effect to be measured very precisely. The problem with the proposal is that any reasonable ether theory also proposes that clock speed (or the speed of the gamma ray source or detector) through the ether affects the frequency. Ruderfer in an errata sheet [4], in fact, points out that the transit time effect and the clock effect would cancel each other so that a null result could be expected even in the presence of an ether drift. Yet in spite of this errata sheet (even when it was acknowledged) a number of people [5, 6] performed the experiment and claimed that it proved there was no ether drift. Ironically, Turner and Hill [7] looked for the clock effect, ignoring the transit time effect, and also conclude from the null results that no ether drift is present.

Unbiased analysis of the rotating Mössbauer experiments would have actually led to a conclusion opposite to that reached in each of the above articles. Specifically, there is substantial independent experimental evidence that clock speed always affects the clock frequency and, as the GPS system shows, the spin velocity of the earth clearly affects the clock rate. This being the case, the null result of the rotating Mössbauer experiments actually imply that an ether drift must exist else the clock effect would not be canceled and a null result would not be present. Thus, the experiments actually favor MLET rather than the SRT, which is completely opposite the account given in virtually all texts on the subject.



  1. Jackson, J. David (1975) Classical Electrodynamics, 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp 508-512.
  2. Hatch, Ronald R. (2002) “In Search of an Ether Drift,” Galilean Electrodynamics, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp 3-8.
  3. Ruderfer, Martin (1960) “First-Order Ether Drift Experiment Using the Mössbauer Radiation,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 5, No. 3, Sept. 1, pp 191-192.
  4. Ruderfer, Martin (1961) “Errata—First-Order Ether Drift Experiment Using the Mössbauer Radiation,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 7, No. 9, Nov. 1, pp 361.
  5. Hay, H.J., et al., (1960) “Measurement of the Red Shift in an Accelerated System Using the Mössbauer Effect in Fe36,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 4, No. 4, Feb. 15, pp 165-166.
  6. Champeney, D.C., et al. (1963) “An ‘Aether Drift’ Experiment Based upon the Mössbauer Effect,” Physics Letters, Vol. 7, No. 4, Dec. 1, pp 241-243.
  7. Turner, K.C. and H.A. Hill (1964) “New Experimental Limit on Velocity-Dependent Interactions of Clocks and Distant Matter,” Physical Review, Vol. 134, No. 1B, Apr. 13, pp B252-B256.