Fitzgerald, George Francis

Fitzgerald, George Francis,

1851–1901, Irish physicist. Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and studied and taught at Trinity College there. He is best known for suggesting how the etherether
or aether,
in physics and astronomy, a hypothetical medium for transmitting light and heat (radiation), filling all unoccupied space; it is also called luminiferous ether. In Newtonian physics all waves are propagated through a medium, e.g.
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, by causing the contraction of bodies moving through it, could account for the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment (see relativityrelativity,
physical theory, introduced by Albert Einstein, that discards the concept of absolute motion and instead treats only relative motion between two systems or frames of reference.
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). His main research effort, however, was to work out the consequences of Maxwell's electromagnetic theory for phenomena not considered by Maxwell, such as the reflection and refraction of light.