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Herbert Eugene Ives

Ives circa 1913
Personal information
Birth date July 21, 1882
Birth place Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of death November 13, 1953
Education University of Pennsylvania
Significant projects facsimile

Herbert Eugene Ives (July 21, 1882, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – November 13, 1953) was a scientist and engineer who headed the development of facsimile and television systems at AT&T in the first half of the twentieth century.



Ives studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated in 1908. He wrote a 1920 book on aerial photography, while an Army reserve officer, in the aviation section.[1] Ives was also an avid coin collector, and was President of the American Numismatic Society. He was president of the Optical Society of America from 1924 to 1925 and was awarded the Frederic Ives Medal in 1937.[2]

Like his father Frederic Eugene Ives, Herbert was an expert on color photography. In 1924, he transmitted and reconstructed the first color facsimile, using color separations. In 1927, he demonstrated 185-line long-distance television, transmitting the image of then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover from AT&T's experimental station 3XN in Whippany, New Jersey.

In the 1940s, Ives expressed his opposition to Einstein's theory of relativity[3] and argued that Einstein's derivation of the mass-energy relation was invalid. [4] Ives asserted in many of his writings that the predictions of special relativity were wrong[5], and he also argued against what he regarded as "the indeterminancies and impotences by which the "Restricted Theory of Relativity" has been widely publicized".[6]

Ives espoused an ether-based view of physics, somewhat similar to that of Lorentz, although unlike Lorentz, Ives maintained that this view contradicted Einstein's special relativity. Ives attempted to demonstrate the correctness of his ether-based views and to refute special relativity by means of logical arguments and experiments. He is best known for the Ives–Stilwell experiment, which ironically provided direct confirmation of special relativity's time dilation factor, although Ives himself denied that the results were consistent with special relativity. This paradoxical aspect of Ives's work was described by his friend, the noted physicist H. P. Robertson, who contributed the following summary of Ives's attitude toward special relativity in a biography of Ives:

"Ives' work in the basic optical field presents a rather curious anomaly, for although he considered that it disproved the special theory of relativity, the fact is that his experimental work offers one of the most valuable supports for this theory, and his numerous theoretical investigations are quite consistent with it… his deductions were in fact valid, but his conclusions were only superficially in contradiction with the relativity theory—their intricacy and formidable appearance were due entirely to Ives' insistence on maintaining an aether framework and mode of expression. I... was never able to convince him that since what he had was in fact indistinguishable in its predictions from the relativity theory within the domain of physics, it was in fact the same theory... some who have not penetrated to the essence of Ives' theoretical work have seized upon it as overthrowing the special theory of relativity, and have used it as an argument for a return to outmoded and invalid ways of thought."

U. S. President Harry Truman awarded Ives a "Medal for Merit" in 1948 for his war-time work on blackout lighting and optical communication systems.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Herbert E. Ives, Airplane Photography, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1920.
  2. ^ "Past Presidents of the Optical Society of America". Optical Society of America.  
  3. ^ a b Dean Turner and Richard Hazelett, eds., The Einstein Myth and the Ives Papers: A Counter-Revolution in Physics, Pasadena: Hope Publishing (1979).
  4. ^
  5. ^ For example, in his 1949 paper "Lorentz Type Transformations..." Ives argued that Einstein's definition of simultaneity was both "not legitimate" and "not true", and he claimed to have proven this experimentally in his 1948 paper "The Measurement of the Velocity of Light...".
  6. ^ H. Ives, "Derivation of the Lorentz transformations", Phil. Mag. 7, vol.39, 1945 p.392

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