Side A: The Michelson-Morley Experiment, conducted at Western Reserve University in July 1887, provides the earliest direct evidence that would later support Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Albert A. Michelson, professor of physics at the Case School of Applied Sciences, and Edward Morley, professor of chemistry at Western Reserve University, tested the prevailing scientific theory that light waves travel faster downwind and slower against an upwind as they travel through a substance once thought to permeate space called aether. Finding no differences in the velocity of light waves traveling in different directions with respect to Earth’s motion around the sun, the experiment’s results baffled a generation of scientists until Einstein solved the riddle by formulating a new understanding of time and space. In 1907, Michelson, then head of the physics department at the University of Chicago, became the first American scientist to earn the Nobel Prize; he did so in physics.
Sponsors: The Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The International Paper Company Foundation, and The Ohio Historical Society