Lorentz' electron theory was not, however, successful in explaining
the negative results of the MichelsonMorley experiment, an effort to
measure the velocity of the Earth through the hypothetical luminiferous
ether by comparing the velocities of light from different directions.
In an attempt to overcome this difficulty he introduced in 1895 the
idea of local time (different time rates in different locations). Lorentz
arrived at the notion that moving bodies approaching the velocity of
light contract in the direction of motion. The Irish physicist George
Francis FitzGerald had already arrived at this notion independently
(see LorentzFitzGerald contraction, and in 1904 Lorentz extended his
work and developed the Lorentz transformations. These mathematical formulas
describe the increase of mass, shortening of length, and dilation of
time that are characteristic of a moving body and form the basis of
Einstein's special theory of relativity. In 1912 Lorentz became director
of research at the Teyler Institute, Haarlem, though he remained honorary
professor at Leiden, where he gave weekly lectures.

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