Einstein and Special Relativity
First, some people call it 'restricted relativity', the 'restricted theory of relativity' or similar. Why call an incomplete theory - unable to deal with accelerations (including all circular motions) - 'special'?
Special relativity applies only to something which Einstein says is impossible - it applies to motion in a straight line, with no acceleration, no deflection.
Einstein's general relativity disproves the possibility of straight line motion, and therefore disproves the applicability of 'special relativity' to this universe we all live in.
Despite this, popularisers like Gamow (who worked on the big bang theory, making some mistakes like claiming at first that the big bang would create all elements, when in fact the heavy elements are made in stars and star explosions) and Asimov applauded 'special relativity'.
Gamow falsely asserts in his book One, Two, Three Infinity (I believe, from memory) that the pressure contraction of objects proposed by FitzGerald and Lorentz was wrong. He rightly points out that a wooden boat and a steel boat moving at same speeds in the sea will be contracted by different amounts by the water pressure. This he uses to claim that the contraction of different materials would occur differently if the ether (spacetime fabric) pressure caused the contraction. This is wrong: because the atom is mostly void, spacetime fabric pressure acts against the individual electrical forces between electrons and nuclei, which are the same for all materials, wood and metal alike.
The errors made by Asimov are more banal. First, in his 1960s History of Physics (I believe, from memory), Asimov states that the ether would need to be solid to convey transverse waves (light), since fluids can only convey longitudinal waves. Asimov they discredits the ether on the basis that if it were solid it would prevent motion through it. The error here is that obvious: there is no absolute distinction, so a jelly conveys both types of wave, and a jelly also allows motion of small (fundamental) particles, squeezing around them as they go. For all the rubbish of 19th century ether speculations, they were not as dense as Asimov on this subject.
This is why the conventional dismissal of ether is the Michelson-Morley experiment, not Asimov's ramblings. Asimov in a later book, again one which was written at a faster typing speed than the speed of his brain, says that a man wrote to him pointing out that Einstein's absurd special relativity came after Poincare's brilliant ether-retaining relativity, not to mention the FitzGerald contraction equation of 1889 and Lorentz's full transformation equations of 1893 (both ether theories, but giving the equations now associated with Einstein).
Asimov dismissed this by expressing an ignorance of the different mathematical approaches to relativity: he said that if Einstein got the same result using relativity, then it is all the same.
The difference is that one approach gets the same equations while retaining the ether, and the other doesn't. This is why Michelson was able to remain an ether theorist, despite having made the experiment which 'special relativity' worshippers claim disproved the ether. Suppose you try to detect something and fail. Do you then conclude that you have disproved the existence of the thing you were trying to detect?
‘The Michelson-Morley experiment has thus failed to detect our motion through the aether, because the effect looked for – the delay of one of the light waves – is exactly compensated by an automatic contraction of the matter forming the apparatus…. The great stumbing-block for a philosophy which denies absolute space is the experimental detection of absolute rotation.’ – A.S. Eddington, Space Time and Gravitation, Cambridge, 1921, pp. 20, 152.
So the contraction of the Michelson-Morley instrument made it fail to detect absolute motion. This is why special relativity needs replacement with a causal general relativity:
‘According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable.’ – Albert Einstein, Leyden university lecture ‘Ether and Relativity’, 1920. (A. Einstein, Sidelights on Relativity, Dover, 1952, p. 23.)
So all these guys who say they are 'defending Einstein' by dismissing ether are liars.
‘… with the new theory of electrodynamics [vacuum filled with virtual particles] we are rather forced to have an aether.’ – P.A.M. Dirac, ‘Is There an Aether?,’ Nature, v168, 1951, p.906.
If you have a kid playing with magnets, how do you explain the pull and push forces felt through space? As ‘magic’?
So Eddington, Einstein, and Dirac are all ether crackpots.