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What is a proper rotation?

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

    Meir Achuz

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    '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."
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