Questions tagged [inertial-frames]

A specific reference frame that describes its coordinates in a manner that does not depend on time and is isotropic.

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110
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Is temperature a Lorentz invariant in relativity?

If an observer starts moving at relativistic speeds will he observe the temperature of objects to change as compared to their rest temperatures? Suppose the rest temperature measured is $T$ and the ...
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How can time dilation be symmetric?

Suppose we have two twins travelling away from each other, each twin moving at some speed $v$: Twin $A$ observes twin $B$’s time to be dilated so his clock runs faster than twin $B$’s clock. But twin ...
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If I run along the aisle of a bus traveling at (almost) the speed of light, can I travel faster than the speed of light?

Let's say I fire a bus through space at (almost) the speed of light in vacuum. If I'm inside the bus (sitting on the back seat) and I run up the aisle of the bus toward the front, does that mean I'm ...
53
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Proof that the Earth rotates?

What is the proof, without leaving the Earth, and involving only basic physics, that the earth rotates around its axis? By basic physics I mean the physics that the early physicists must've used to ...
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Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
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Why didn't Lorentz conclude that no object can go faster than light?

Based on Lorentz factor $\gamma = \frac{1}{\sqrt {1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}$ it is easy to see $v < c$ since otherwise $\gamma$ would be either undefined or a complex number, which is non-physical. Also, ...
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Without the Michelson-Morley experiment, is there any other reason to think speed of light is the universal speed limit?

If the Michelson-Morley experiment hadn't been conducted, are there any other reasons to think, from the experimental evidence available at that time, that Einstein could think of the Special Theory ...
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Is there a frame of reference in which I was born before I was conceived?

I'm struggling to understand the relativity of simultaneity and position. If my conception and birth are separated by time but not space, a frame of reference in which my birth and conception are ...
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Is the presence of a magnetic field frame-dependent?

I do not have a strong background in physics, so please refrain from using complex mathematics in any answers :) I was on this site, and I read: When an electrical charge is moving or an ...
38
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9answers
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How does an isolated body in deep space 'know' it's rotating? [duplicate]

We can imagine an object floating in the known universe, maximally distant from any other large mass. Maybe it has been there since coalescing after the big bang. What physical phenomena tell it ...
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How am I able to stand up and walk down the aisle of a flying passenger jet?

The energy of a moving object is $E = mv^2\;.$ That is it increases with velocity squared. I walk at say 3 miles per hour, or lets round that down to 1 meter per second for a slow walk. I weigh less ...
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What is the Earth truly rotating about/revolving around?

Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, the sun revolves around the galaxy, the galaxy is also moving. So Earth's net rotation as observed from a fixed inertial frame consists of all ...
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Is Mach's Principle Wrong?

This question was prompted by another question about a paper by Woodward (not mine). IMO Mach's principle is very problematic (?wrong) thinking. Mach was obviously influenced by Leibniz. Empty space ...
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How does a spinning object “know” that it is spinning?

I am constructing a thought experiment about a spinning object that is floating in intergalactic space. I assume that this object is about the size of a planet so that it will have enough gravity so ...
29
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Does a photon in vacuum have a rest frame?

Quite a few of the questions given on this site mention a photon in vacuum having a rest frame such as it having a zero mass in its rest frame. I find this contradictory since photons must travel at ...
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Hole-and-nail paradox in special relativity

Yesterday we started relativity on our physics class, and my professor taught us a few concepts. We did some examples on how things changed by looking them from different reference systems, and a ...
28
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Deriving the Lagrangian for a free particle

I'm a newbie in physics. Sorry, if the following questions are dumb. I began reading "Mechanics" by Landau and Lifshitz recently and hit a few roadblocks right away. Proving that a free particle ...
28
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Does the speed of light vary in non-inertial frames?

The speed of light is the same in all inertial frames. Does it change from a non-inertial frame to another? Can it be zero? If it is not constant in non-inertial frames, is it still bounded from ...
27
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What determines which frames are inertial frames?

I understand that you can (in principle) measure whether "free particles" (no forces) experience accelerations in order to tell whether a frame is inertial. But fundamentally, what determines which ...
26
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6answers
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(Almost) double light speed

Let's say we have $2$ particles facing each other and each traveling (almost) at speed of light. Let's say I'm sitting on #$1$ particle so in my point of view #$2$ particle's speed is (almost) $c+c=...
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Are planets actually moving in elliptical orbits around the Sun or do they move in circular orbits around their center of mass?

In every derivation of Kepler's Laws that I have seen, we assume that the sun is stationary. However, in other places I have read that celestial bodies move about their barycentre (center of mass). So ...
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What is the complete proof that the speed of light in vacuum is constant in relativistic mechanics?

I study maths in uni and we have a course about relativity. In the main principles I've read that the speed of light is invariant since we can calculate it from the Maxwell equations. My problem ...
23
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What is physically different about a moving vs still object in space?

If I have two asteroids. One dead still in space and one whizzing by at 10,000mph. What is the difference between the two, physically? If I freeze time and look at the two of them - what differences ...
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What are the mechanics by which Time Dilation and Length Contraction occur?

What are the mechanics of time dilation and length contraction? Going beyond the mathematical equations involving light and the "speed limit of the universe", what is observed is merely a phenomenon ...
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Why does rotation simulate gravity if motion is relative?

In Einstein's theory of relativity, if motion is truly relative, then why would somebody in a rotating space station experience (artificial) gravity? I mean, I get why they experience gravity IF the ...
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3answers
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Oh-my-god particle: How can it get through Milky way in 10 seconds?

My question is concerning wikipedia article on Oh-my-God particle, to be precise, this paragraph: This particle had so much kinetic energy it was travelling at 99.99999999999999999999951% the speed ...
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Is it possible to stay up while riding a bike on a moving sidewalk without actually moving?

If I ride a bicycle on a moving sidewalk so that I am not in effect moving at all relative to the ground, will I fall over?
21
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Why is Newton's first law necessary?

Newton's second law says $F=ma$. Now if we put $F=0$ we get $a=0$ which is Newton's first law. So why do we need Newton's first law ? Before asking I did some searching and I got this: Newtons first ...
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Is kinetic energy a relative quantity? Will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? [duplicate]

If the velocity is a relative quantity, will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? For example: In the train moving at $V$ relative to ground, ...
20
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Is rotational motion relative to space?

Let's assume that there is nothing in the universe except Earth. If the Earth rotates on its axis as it does, then would we experience the effects of rotational motion like centrifugal force and ...
19
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3answers
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Energy Conservation Dilemma

Assume that a man is travelling in a space ship at a certain relativistic speed with respect to a man at rest at some point in space, such that 3 minutes in the ship is equal to 5 minutes for the ...
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5answers
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Newton's Bucket [duplicate]

Newton's Bucket This thought experiment is originally due to Sir Isaac Newton. We have a sphere of water floating freely in an opaque box in intergalactic space, held together by surface tension and ...
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How do we know that the laws of physics are invariant in all inertial frames?

Einstein's Special Relativity theory is based on the assumption that the laws of physics are invariant in all inertial frames, and from there - according to Maxwell's equations - it derives that the ...
18
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What does a frame of reference mean in terms of manifolds?

Because of my mathematical background, I've been finding it hard to relate the physics-talk I've been reading, with mathematical objects. In (say special) relativity, we have a Lorentzian manifold, $...
18
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A paradox of length contraction

Suppose the proper length of a train is longer than that of a bridge, and the bridge can't bear the total weight of the train but can bear it partially. As the train goes very fast, it becomes shorter ...
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3answers
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Do I have to know the General Relativity theory to understand the concept of inertial frame?

I have read answers on this site as well as the Wikipedia article, but they all add to the confusion. Some people suggest that a freely falling frame is an inertial frame. I learnt in classical ...
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3answers
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Why is the period of rotation the same for two stars orbiting the same centre?

In a binary star system, two stars $A$ and $B$ follow circular orbits, of radius $R$ and $r$ respectively, centred on their common centre of mass $O$. The mass of star $A$ is $M$, and that of star $B$ ...
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What problems with Electromagnetism led Einstein to the Special Theory of Relativity?

I have often heard it said that several problems in the theory of electromagnetism as described by Maxwell's equations led Einstein to his theory of Special Relativity. What exactly were these ...
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2answers
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Lorentz transformation of Gamma matrices $\gamma^{\mu}$

From my understanding, gamma matrices transforms under Lorentz transformation $\Lambda$ as \begin{equation} \gamma^{\mu} \rightarrow S[\Lambda]\gamma^{\mu}S[\Lambda]^{-1} = \Lambda^{\mu}_{\nu}\gamma^{\...
16
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9answers
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Special Relativity - two beams of light in opposite direction

I just want to first say that I'm aware I am asking a question due to my own confusion and ignorance and not because of anything to do with special relativity. I hope that's alright. What I'm ...
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4answers
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Contradiction between law of conservation of energy and law of conservation of momentum?

Yesterday, while studying a simple question, a rather strange doubt hit my mind: Consider a ball of mass $m$ moving with velocity $v$ that collides with a wall in a perfectly elastic collision and ...
15
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3answers
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The reference frame of $c$

I don't have a lot of knowledge of special relativity and associated topics; some of the few things I know are that "all motion is relative" (that is, there is no 'stationary reference frame'), and ...
15
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3answers
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How to derive addition of velocities without the Lorentz transformation?

Lorentz contraction and time dilatation can be deduced without Lorentz transformation. Can you deduce also the theorem of addition of velocities $$w~=~\dfrac{u+v}{1+uv/c^2}$$ without Lorentz ...
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2answers
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How do I derive the Lorentz contraction from the invariant interval?

Reviewing some basic special relativity, and I stumbled upon this problem: From the definition of the proper time: $$c^2d\tau^2=c^2dt^2-dx^2$$ I was able to derive the time dilation formula by using $...
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5answers
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How does one determine an inertial frame?

How does one determine whether one is in an inertial frame? An inertial frame is one on which a particle with no force on it travels in a straight line. But how does one determine that no forces are ...
15
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1answer
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Why isn't temperature frame dependent?

In (non-relativistic) classical physics, if the temperature of an object is proportional to the average kinetic energy ${1 \over 2} m\overline {v^{2}}$of its particles (or molecules), then shouldn't ...
14
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If photons don't experience time, does that mean time is a consequence of mass? [closed]

If photons don't experience the passage of time because they have no mass, does that mean time is a consequence of mass? To me that's a profound conclusion yet not one I see printed. Is it right?
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How can Newton's idea of absolute space be reconciled with Galilean relativity?

I wasn't sure if this might be better suited to History of Science and Mathematics SE, but I suppose it is a bit more 'science-y' than historical. Apparently Newton believed in absolute space and ...
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What is an event in Special Relativity?

Lorentz transformations help us transform coordinates of one frame to that of another. For example, let the coordinates of an event in an inertial frame $S$ be $(x, t)$, then the coordinates in frame ...
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Is there any true inertial reference frame in the universe?

Is there any true inertial reference frame in the universe? Newton's first law states that an object at rest remains at rest, and an object performing uniform motion performs uniform motion, until ...