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What is Frame of Reference : Inertial Frame and Non-inertial Frame of Reference

What is Frame of Reference : Inertial Frame and Non-inertial Frame of Reference

Etutor Guru

08 Sep 2023

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  • Non-inertial Frame of Reference

Welcome to Throughout our studies, we have acquired knowledge pertaining to the concepts of velocity, acceleration, and displacement. However, it is important to note that all of these quantities require a specific frame of reference in order to be accurately measured. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the concept of frame of reference.

What Is a frame of Reference?

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We have learned about velocity, acceleration, and displacement. But all these quantities need a frame of reference from which they are measured.

Definition: An arbitrary set of axes with reference to which the position or motion of something is described or physical laws are formulated

Types of Frame of Reference

  • Inertial Frame of Reference
  • Non-inertial Frame of Reference

Inertial Frame of Reference

An inertial frame of reference is a coordinate system in which Newton’s laws of motion are valid. This implies that in the absence of any external forces, an object will either remain at rest or continue to move with constant velocity. Consider a scenario where an object is situated on the Earth’s surface. From the perspective of an individual located on Earth, the object is perceived to be stationary. Conversely, an observer positioned on the Moon would perceive the object to be in motion. In this context, it becomes pertinent to determine the inertial frame of reference applicable to this situation.

The term “inertial frame” is inherently relative in nature. Initially, we make the assumption that a particular reference frame can be considered as the inertial frame of reference. A broader characterization of an inertial frame can be stated as follows: An inertial frame is one that remains stationary or moves at a consistent velocity relative to a presumed inertial reference frame.

Non-inertial Frame of Reference

A non-inertial frame can be defined as a frame that undergoes acceleration in relation to the assumed inertial frame of reference. The validity of Newton’s law is not applicable in these reference frames. In the aforementioned scenario, assuming the Earth to be an inertial reference frame, the Moon can be regarded as a non-inertial reference frame due to its accelerated motion relative to the Earth.

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