Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is a proper rotation?

  1. Nov 7, 2014 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2014 #2

    Meir Achuz

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    'proper' usually means the determinant of the transformation matrix is +1.
     
  4. Nov 7, 2014 #3
    Meir Achuz comment is correct, as far as it goes. If the determinant is +1, a right-handed coordinate system is transformed into a right-handed coordinate system; this is a "proper" (or physically realizable) transformation.

    If the determinant is -1, the transformation is "improper" which is to say that a right-handed system is transformed into a left-handed system, and vice versa. This is improper in that it cannot be realized physically because "it turns space inside out."
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook