In the dice and miniatures adventure game Dungeon and Dragons, the Ether exists as The Ethereal Plane, a special ‘wasteland’ plane of existence which is present in the background of all the inner planes, but part of none of them. Etheric cyclones were a danger to hapless adventurers, who would find themselves tossed into other planes of existence adjacent to the Ethereal at the Dungeon Master’s whim.
The oriental concepts of Chi and the Tao sound very close to the definition of Ether; an ultimate reality, a living void which simultaneously creates and consumes all physical forms in an endless churn. The field theory of matter as described by physicist Hermann Weyl in The Tao of Physics, p. 199, proposes that reality is ‘really’ just ultra high intensity electrical charges in a cosmic electrical field. The tiny electrical charges that make up the atoms of everything that exists manifest as physical matter in a cosmic field of static.
The carbon nature of the Ether is so fine as to be undetectable by eye or any current scientific instrument, but might explain why our Milky Way galaxy emits radio static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out background radio hisses of their own. This ‘universal signal’ was discovered in another form in 1977 by SETI astronomer Jerry R. Ehman, originating in the constellation of Sagittarius.
Today, the Ether seems relevant only in terms of fiction and pseudoscience, conspiracy theory even. Sci Fi Fantasy Blog thinks perhaps science doth protest too much. Coming this weekend as promised; The Weapons of Sci Fi-Fantasy Part 3 – Projectiles.