What is aether: Quintessence, Aether or the fifth element, there are all the “materials” that the Greeks would pronounce to what fill up the universe, what essentially feel up the vacuum of space. The concept theorized in the 19th century to be the main medium for which light travel in said vacuum.
Aether is Greek for the clear sky or the pure air. This is the essence of which the Gods breathe, similar to what we humans breathe air.
What is Aether According to Mythology
Aether plays a role in the mythological creation myths of the world egg (or cosmic egg). The beginning of the universe as we know it hatched from a single egg. This mythology is found to be common across several civilizations worldwide, whereby they would all follow the same general concept. The egg would hatch and divide itself into two main forms, the Heavens and the Earth. Or that a Gold would be born to then create the world as we know it.
In the Vedas or Hindu literature, the Brahmanda (meaning brahm as cosmos and anda as an egg) is spoken in detail. The egg would float in the void of space and eventually broke into two halves, creating the Dyaus or Heaven and Prithvi or Earth. The text would include the further division of the universe at its early stage.
In the Taoist mythology, the God by the name of Pangu hatched from the egg and broke in half. The upper body as the sky, while the lower body embodies the Earth. Pangu would grow taller, thus the sky separates, and bigger, therefore the Earth grew thicker. In his death, the body parts would create the majesty of mother nature.
The Greek would conceive the same tradition, with the Orphic egg hatching the primeval deity Phanes. The rest of the Gods would, later on, be created, who would eventually kick start the construction of Earth.
What is Aether According to Cosmology
To that extent, modern cosmology proposed the Big Bang theory as the creation of the universe. The cosmic egg was created by the idea of the gravitational singularity, whereby the mass of the entire universe was compressed in a single, well, egg. The Big Bang eventually create the universe we know today, and that it is indeed still growing and endlessly expands outwards.
How does the Aether links all of them up? The concept of Aether is what makes up the Heavens, not the religions Heavens per say, but rather the sky and all those above it.
68% of the vacuum in space is made up of Dark energy the energy that globally affect the entire universe. The energy that accelerates the expansion of the universe.
There is also dark matter, which is the matter that attempts to theorize the unexplained gravitational pull that holding the galaxies and planets as clusters. 27% of the matter in the observable universe is comprised of this matter.
According to Aristotle, the Aether moved in circles at a local motion. When it creates a crystalline sphere, it would hold celestial bodies in its place. The circular motion path its ways for orbits of planets and starts, although he describes it as a perfect circle, rather than an ellipse shape as we know today.
What is Aether: The Fifth Element
The fifth element would later become popular among medieval alchemist. In the 14th century, Ramon Llull, develop the theory that there is too little of this fifth element present on Earth that instead of moving independently, the planet would be affected by the heavenly bodies. The element, better known as Quintessence on its day, would be heavily researched for healing properties. The heavenly quality of the substance would cure any impurities in oneself through consuming it.
With the advancement in Science of the 18th century, quantum physicist often includes “aether theories” to explain electromagnetic force, as well as gravity. Albert Einstein special relativity theory would reject the aethers components from the propagation of these forces. However, the man himself note that the empty space between two physical objects could be implied to project its own physical properties.
Isaac Newton uses the “aether theory” to explain the flow that causes gravity to act on an object, the substance that would pull an object downwards. This is the explanation he gave to how gravity works on an object. The dense the object, the more aether it contains and the more it would be pulled down towards the Earth.
There was also an aspect of the elastic interaction between aether, explaining why the same object falls down to Earth at different force. However, this is all his early gravity theory, before he, like others, abandon the “aether model” to pursue our modern understanding of the interaction of motion and laws of force.
Whether you interpolate whether the fifth element does actually exist, or just a substitute to explain theories that physics could not explain in the first place, you can’t deny how much aether affect our understanding of science and the culture.