3 3 8 D O C . 3 3 2 O N T H E E T H E R
Moreover, a short while ago, a paper appeared by the Indian Bose on the deriva-
tion of Planck’s
that is of special significance to our theoretical consid-
eration for the following reason: Hitherto, all complete derivations of Planck’s for-
mula somehow made use of the hypothesis of the wave structure of
Thus, e.g., the factor of this formula was obtained in the known Ehrenfest-
Debye derivation[21] by counting the number of natural oscillations in the cavity
that belong to the frequency range dv. Bose replaces this counting based on the no-
tions of the wave theory by a calculation in gas theory, which he relates to a light
quantum imagined to be inside the cavity, similarly to a molecule. Thus, the ques-
tion arises whether it wouldn’t be possible one day, after all, to link the phenomena
of diffraction and interference to quantum theory in such a way that the fieldlike
concepts of the theory only represent expressions of the interactions between quan-
ta, whereby separate physical reality is no longer attached to the field.
The important fact that, according to Bohr’s theory, the frequency of emitted ra-
diation is not determined by electrically charged masses undergoing periodic pro-
cesses of the same frequency can only strengthen our doubt of the independent re-
ality of the wave field.[22]
But even if these possibilities mature into real theories, we are not going to be
able to dispense with the ether in theoretical physics, that is, with the continuum
furnished with physical properties; because the general theory of relativity, whose
fundamental aspects physicists will probably always retain, excludes any unmedi-
ated action-at-a-distance.[23] However, every theory of contact action presupposes
continuous fields, hence also the existence of an “ether.”
[p. 93]
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