Covariant Quantum Electrodynamics in Terms of a Possible Ether Flow
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- Institutt for fysikk 
This paper from 1971 has a somewhat strange history. At that time I was working with the covariant quantization procedure for an electromagnetic field in a dielectric medium. In such a theory, the commutator for the potentials contains the medium's four-velocity Vμ. What appeared to me at that time to be a natural idea, was to suggest that Vμ is not only a formal remedy (as in the Gupta-Bleuler theory), but that it reflects a concept of deeper physical significance, namely the four-velocity of the all-pervading ether. The idea was actually related to that put forward by Dirac in 1951 and 1952, although there in a somewhat different context. I suggested this interpretation in a paper published in the archival series "Theoretical Physics Seminar in Trondheim", No. 4, 1971. Submitting afterwards the paper to Il Nuovo Cimento, I received a report from an upset referee stating that all mention of an ether was pure nonsense, far outside of any reasonable physics. The same kind of reaction I got when giving a seminar at the University of Göttingen the same year. So I gave the idea up. Some years have however elapsed since then, and as we know the ether concept is nowadays often used in theoretical physics. I was thus far ahead of my time. The reason why I am posting this old paper on the arXiv now, is that I was recently asked to do so. The main purpose of the paper, as mentioned, was after all not to give strong arguments for the ether idea as such, but rather on a more mundane level to present the covariant quantization procedure of the electromagnetic field using a macroscopic picture. For simplicity it was assumed that the medium had a constant refractive index.