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325px-Michelson Interferometer

A Michelson interferometer for use on an optical table.

The Michelson interferometer is the most common configuration for optical interferometry and was invented by Albert Abraham Michelson. An interference pattern is produced by splitting a beam of light into two paths, bouncing the beams back and recombining them. The different paths may be of different lengths or be composed of different materials to create alternating interference fringes on a back detector. Michelson, along with Edward Morley, used this interferometer for the famous Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) in which this interferometer was used to show the constancy of the speed of light across multiple inertial frames, which removed the conceptual need for a luminiferous aether to provide a rest frame for light.

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