Introduction to frames of reference
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Introduction to frames of reference

October 13, 2019


– [Instructor] What I’d
like to do in this video is talk about the notion
of a frame of reference and this is an introductory video. In future videos, we’ll
go into a lot more depth, but a frame of reference
is really the idea it’s a point of view from
which you are measuring things and as we’ll see, many
of the quantities that we might measure in physics,
like velocity or displacement, they could be different
depending on our point of view, depending on which frame of
reference we are measuring from and to get this an intuitive grasp of it, I’m going to draw the exact same scenario from three different frames of reference. There’s the first one, this is the second one, and this is the third one. So in this first frame of
reference, this first scenario, we’re gonna talk about the frame
of reference of the ground. So if you are a stationary
observer on the ground, so you could imagine this is you here and you’re the person doing the measuring of let’s say we want
to measure velocities. So from your point of view, since you’re stationary
relative to the ground, what does the ground’s velocity look like? Well, you and the ground
appear to be stationary, appear to not be moving. Now, what if you take out your instruments for measuring velocity
or you see a change in, you see what the displacement
is over a certain time for the plane and the car and you’re able to see okay, look, this plane has a velocity to the right of 250 meters per second, 250 meters per second, and let’s say this car that is moving quite fast by car standards is moving to the left
at 50 meters per second. So this should be 1/5 of that length. So let me draw a little bit. So let’s say this is moving to the left at 50 meters per second. Well, none of this seems crazy. You might be able to go outside
next to the highway and see, well 50 meters per second
would be quite fast, but anyway, you could observe
this type of thing happening and it seems completely reasonably. But what if we were to change
our frame of reference, change the point of view from
which we are measuring things. So let’s take the frame
of reference of the car. Well in this frame of reference, let’s say you’re sitting in this car and I don’t recommend you
doing this while driving, let’s say someone else is driving or it’s an autonomous vehicle of some kind and you take out your physics instruments with the stopwatch and you
see what the displacement is of the ground and the
plane over, say, a second and you are able to first
say, from your point of view, you’re like well the car is stationary, the car has a velocity of zero, the car is stationary and from your point of view, you would actually measure
the ground to be moving. You would see the trees
move past you to the right, or behind you if you’re
moving to the left, and so from your point of view the ground would actually
look like it’s moving in this direction, in that direction, at 50 meters per second. It would look like it’s moving behind you or in this case, the
way we’re looking at it, to the right at 50 meters per second. Now, what would the plane look like? Well, the plane not
only would it look like it’s moving to the right
at 250 meters per second, not only would it be just
that 250 meters per second, but relative to you it’d look
like it’s going even faster ’cause you’re going past it, you are going to the
left from the stationary, from the ground’s point of
view at 50 meters per second. So the plane, to you, is gonna look like it’s going
250 plus 50 meters per second. So the vector would look like this and so it would look like it’s
going to the right at 300, let me write that in that orange color, at 300 meters per second. Now, what about from the
point of view of the plane? What if we’re talking about
the plane’s frame of reference? Why don’t you pause this video and think about what
the velocities would be of the plane, the car, and the ground from the plane’s point of view. All right, now let’s work
through this together. So now, we’re sitting in the plane and once again we shouldn’t
be flying the plane, we’re letting someone else do that, we have our physics instruments out and we’re trying to measure the velocities of these other things from
my frame of reference. Well, the plane, first of all, is going to appear to be stationary and that might seem counterintuitive, but if you’ve ever sat in a plane, especially when there’s no turbulence and the plane is already at altitude and it’s not taking off or landing, oftentimes if you close your eyes you don’t know if you are moving. In fact, if you close all of the windows, it feels like you are
in a stationary object, that you might as well be in a house. So from the plane’s point
of view, you feel like, or from your point of view in the plane, it feels like the plane is stationary. Now the ground, however, looks like it’s moving quite quickly. It’ll look like it’s moving past you at 250 meters per second. Whoops, try and draw a straight line. At 200… At 250. Sometimes my tools act funny. So, at 250 meters per second to the left. And the car, well it’s moving
to the left even faster. It’s going to be moving to the left 50 meters per second
faster than the ground is. So the car is gonna look
not like it’s just going 50 meters per second, it’s gonna look like it’s going 50 meters plus another 250 meters per second for a total of 300 meters
per second to the left. So this gives you an appreciation for what frames of references are. You can view it for
this introductory video as a point of view from which you’re making
your measurements. Now, it’s tempting for
a lot of folks to say well there must be one
correct frame of reference and a lot of times in our everyday world you might say well this,
maybe this is the correct frame of reference and these are just, we’re just imagining this
or this is just the mistake and the reason why we do that is because we’re using the frame of reference of this big, giant thing called the earth, but it actually turns out that none of these frames of reference are more valid than the other ones, that they are all equivalent, that they are all valid
frames of reference, not, I shouldn’t say they’re equivalent, we’re obviously getting
different measurements from them, but they’re all, from a
physics point of view, equally valid frames of reference.

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  1. This video explains when Max Planck said "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change"

  2. I have a Question…..The space shuttle is flying at 17,500mph and the Earth spinning at 1000mph….What would be the correct frame of reference…………..

    How can the space shuttle fly faster than Earths rotation?and can anything possibly fly that fast without breaking up,after all its held together with rivets and bolts and probably space tape …….

  3. how about you then introduce the reference frames of platforms/objects moving in the same direction.Well i know how to find the relative speeds of different platforms but I just want to clarify it by your answers.

  4. Does direction not play an important part in this like you only depicted this using one direction what if the direction is REVERSED?

  5. Well, the one in the middle is wrong. The plane relative to the car moving in the opposite direction should be a subtraction. For example, you are in your car on the highway. Your car is going 50 miles per hour. Another car is passing you going 60 mph. The 60 mph car is going 10 mph relative the 50 mile . You should point the car in the right direction because you have the care pointed in the opposite direction of the air plane, but you draw an arrow in the same direction of airplane.

  6. What if both the car and plane are moving the same direction. Would the velocity of the plane from the perspective of the car be the same or slightly lower like 200m/s?

  7. It seems that there is missing one litlle but important fact.

    Frames of reference =
    1) Coordinate system (Cartesian, Polar, Cylindrical, spherical and so on…)
    +
    2) The set of physical reference points (=ground, car and plane [in this video]) that uniquely fix (locate and orient) the coordinate system and standardize measurements.

    Coordinate systems arn't mentioned. Implicitly/tacitly there is Cartesian coordinate system with only x-axe in the video.
    Otherwise great video!
    I always visualize like two or more Coordinate systems move relative to each other. That is how it's in my textbook from physics.

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