In Nature this week

September 7, 2007

A review by Ignazio Ciufolini on Dragging in inertial frames:

The origin of inertia has intrigued scientists and philosophers for centuries. Inertial frames of reference permeate our daily life. The inertial and centrifugal forces, such as the pull and push that we feel when our vehicle accelerates, brakes and turns, arise because of changes in velocity relative to uniformly moving inertial frames. A classical interpretation ascribed these forces to acceleration relative to some absolute frame independent of the cosmological matter, whereas an opposite view related them to acceleration relative to all the masses and ‘fixed stars’ in the Universe. An echo and partial realization of the latter idea can be found in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which predicts that a spinning mass will ‘drag’ inertial frames along with it. Here I review the recent measurements of frame dragging using satellites orbiting Earth.


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