1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

B Why is acceleration independent of reference frames?

  1. Apr 11, 2016 #1
    I want to know why is the measurement of acceleration independent of inertial reference frames?
    I mean if displacement, velocity varies with change of inertial reference frames, acceleration should vary.
    And, one more question: When we say that displacement or velocity varies with change in reference(inertial) reference frames, are we talking about variation in magnitude only or both magnitude and direction. I think it should be both magnitude and direction.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    You can derive this directly from the velocity addition formula. Just differentiate it with respect to time.
  4. Apr 11, 2016 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Hi randomgamernerd, welcome to PF!

    In relativity there are two different acceleration concepts and it is important to distinguish between the two of them.

    One of them is coordinate acceleration, this seems to be the kind of acceleration you are thinking about. You are correct, length contraction and time dilation make it so that different frames disagree on coordinate acceleration.

    The other kind is called proper acceleration. This is the acceleration that you physically feel, the acceleration measured by an accelerometer. This acceleration is invariant, and becomes very important as you transition from SR to GR.
  5. Apr 11, 2016 #4
    I suppose that you mean the classical (non-relativistic) case.
    In this case, even though the velocity depends on the frame, the change in velocities is frame independent.
    This is so because in the non-relativistic limit the transformations between inertial frames are just adding some constant ( velocity) which cancel out when you take the difference.

    The relativistic case is a little more complex, as already mentioned (Dale's post).
  6. Apr 11, 2016 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    My apologies for my answer. For some reason I thought this was in the relativity section. My response was probably overboard for a basic general physics question.
  7. May 24, 2016 #6
    i forgot to give a reply.
    Thanks for your answers...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted