Morley, Edward Williams


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Morley, Edward Williams,

1838–1923, American scientist, b. Newark, N.J., grad. Williams College, 1860. From 1869 to 1906 he was professor of chemistry at Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve Univ.). He is known especially for his work with A. A. MichelsonMichelson, Albert Abraham
, 1852–1931, American physicist, b. Strelno, Prussia, grad. Annapolis, 1873, and studied at Berlin, Heidelberg, and Paris. He was professor of physics at Clark Univ. (1889–92) and later was head of the department of physics at the Univ.
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 and D. C. Miller in investigating the relative motion of the earth and 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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 and in developing the interferometer as a means of measuring length and distance, and particularly for the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887), which led to the refutation of the ether hypothesis and the development of Einstein's theory of relativity. His other important experiments include research on the oxygen content of the atmosphere; determinations of the density of oxygen and hydrogen and their combining ratio in water; determination of the velocity of light in a magnetic field; and work on thermal expansion.

Morley, Edward Williams

(1838–1923) chemist, physicist; born in Newark, N.J. He taught at Western Reserve University (1869–1906). His important contributions came through his genius in making new instruments for the precise measurements required in modern science. With one of these he was able to measure accurately the oxygen content of the atmosphere (1870s); later he determined the atomic weight of oxygen relative to hydrogen in forming water; he also made a new manometer to measure the thermal expansion of air and its constituent gases. He also worked with A. A. Michelson in developing the interferometer they used to measure lengths in terms of the wavelengths of light. The so-called Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) led to the refutation of the ether hypothesis and contributed to Einstein's theory of relativity.