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This led to considerable theoretical work to explain the propagation of light without an aether.
A major breakthrough was the theory of relativity, which could explain why the experiment failed to see aether, but was more broadly interpreted to suggest that it wasn't needed.
In addition, Newton rejected light as waves in a medium because such a medium would have to extend everywhere in space, and would thereby "disturb and retard the Motions of those great Bodies" (the planets and comets) and thus "as it [light's medium] is of no use, and hinders the Operation of Nature, and makes her languish, so there is no evidence for its Existence, and therefore it ought to be rejected".
In 1720 James Bradley carried out a series of experiments attempting to measure stellar parallax by taking measurements of stars at different times of the year.
By the late 1800s, the existence of the aether was being questioned, although there was no physical theory to replace it.
And is not this Medium the same with that Medium by which Light is refracted and reflected, and by whose Vibrations Light communicates Heat to Bodies, and is put into Fits of easy Reflexion and easy Transmission?The modern understanding is that heat radiation is, like light, electromagnetic radiation.