Frame of reference : inertial frame and non-inertial frame

Inertial Frame of Reference

Frame of reference

We have learnt about velocity, acceleration and displacement. But all these quantities need a frame of reference from which they are measured. Let’s consider following figure

frame of reference

If we ask A what velocity of B is, he will say it is at rest. But if we ask the same question to C, he will say B is moving with a velocity V in the positive X direction. So we can see before specifying the velocity we have specify in which frame we are or in simple terms we need to define a frame of reference. Once we have chosen our reference they can be of two types:

An inertial frame of reference is a frame where Newton’s law hold true. That means if no external force is acting on a body it will stay at rest or remain in uniform motion. Suppose a body is kept on the surface of earth, for a person on earth it is at rest while for a person on moon it is in motion so which is my inertial frame here? Actually the term inertial frame is relative i.e. first we assume a reference frame to be inertial frame of reference. So a more general definition of inertial frame would be: Inertial frame is at rest or moves with constant velocity with respect to my assumed inertial reference frame.

Now we can define non inertial frame as a frame which is accelerated with respect to the assumed inertial frame of reference. Newton’s law will not hold true in these frames. So in the above example if I assume earth to be an inertial reference frame the moon becomes a non inertial reference frame as it is in accelerated motion with respect to earth. But if we want to make Newton’s law hold here we need to take some mysterious forces also known as pseudo forces.

Learn more about these mysterious forces, their origin and application through BYJU’s classes.


Practise This Question

For vacation, Ted was going to a hill station. When he started, he checked out the Odometer of his dad’s car. The reading was 1111.22 km. After the journey, the reading was 1342.56 km. How many meters did Ted travel through?