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Coriolis effect and relativity

  1. May 7, 2009 #1
    With my fairly sketchy knowledge of relativity, one of the basic assumptions is that you can't tell who's point of view is right, with regards to how thing are moving. But, in the case of rotation, isn't it possible to tell if you are rotating by observing the coriolis effect?
    For instance, when a rocket is launched, it seems to curve as we rotate away from it, but it wouldn't do this if we were not rotating. Surely this shows that we are rotating.
    Does the 'not knowing who is moving' rule apply to rotation, or does this somehow not violate it? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2009 #2
    As you have hopefully guessed already, the existence of the coriolis force isn't proof that the Special Principle of Relativity is wrong. When one follows a curve, you are experiencing a force - and an acceleration:


    The special principle of relativity states that all physical laws are in agreement amoungst all intertial frames, so does not apply when one observer is experiencing an acceleration.

    Have a look at:

    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  4. May 7, 2009 #3


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    In the case on inertial observers, everyone is right and you can choose a frame to suit your convenience. But rotating frames are not inertial. So if you were spinning on a roundabout, you could tell you are rotating from the forces you feel and measure. Other observers would also agree that you are rotating.

    simultaneous with the above - fasterthanjoao you can correct your tex by changing the [ \ tex ] to [ / tex ]
  5. May 7, 2009 #4


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    Rotation, even at constant speed, involves changing velocity and is an acceleration so not inertial.
  6. May 7, 2009 #5
    Alright, thanks a lot.
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