Physics Help Forum inertial reference frame

 Special and General Relativity Special and General Relativity Physics Help Forum

 Oct 12th 2008, 08:46 PM #1 Junior Member   Join Date: Jul 2008 Posts: 14 inertial reference frame Please tell me which criteria should we use in order to find out if a reference frame is inertial or not.
Oct 15th 2008, 10:58 AM   #2

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 Originally Posted by evabern Please tell me which criteria should we use in order to find out if a reference frame is inertial or not.
In special relativity all we need to do is find out if there are any "unexpected" forces in the mix. For example, if there is some kind of Coriolis type force (just as an example) on an object then the frame is not inertial. A good fast way to determine if the system is inertial we can simply see if there are any gravitational forces acting on the system. No system with gravity acting on it is inertial. (However if the gravitational field is very weak we can still use it as inertial to a good approximation.)

The problem is, in a way, simpler in general relativity. There is always some coordinate frame such that the system is inertial, at least for any given instant. Of course, this situation is not really helpful unless you have a background in tensor analysis.

-Dan
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