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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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Galilean Relativity

Galilean Relativity

Chapter:
(p.22) 3 Galilean Relativity
Source:
The Elements of Relativity
Author(s):

David M. Wittman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199658633.003.0003

Galilean relativity is a useful description of nature at low speed. Galileo found that the vertical component of a projectile’s velocity evolves independently of its horizontal component. In a frame that moves horizontally along with the projectile, for example, the projectile appears to go straight up and down exactly as if it had been launched vertically. The laws of motion in one dimension are independent of any motion in the other dimensions. This leads to the idea that the laws of motion (and all other laws of physics) are equally valid in any inertial frame: the principle of relativity. This principle implies that no inertial frame can be considered “really stationary” or “really moving.” There is no absolute standard of velocity (contrast this with acceleration where Newton’s first law provides an absolute standard). We discuss some apparent counterexamples in everyday experience, and show how everyday experience can be misleading.

Keywords:   Galilean relativity, inertial frame, principle of relativity, projectile motion, velocity components

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