Measuring Electromagnetic Fields in Rotating Frames

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  • INFN Padova


We review the problem of transforming electromagnetic fields between inertial and rotating reference frames. We compare the method of straightforward tensor coordinate transformations adopted by Schiff in his well-known paper of 1939 with the method of Orthogonal Tetrads (OT) that was applied to this problem in 1964 by Irvine. Although both methods are mathematically rigorous, the transformed fields have different forms depending on the method adopted. We emphasize that the OT method is expected to predict the fields that would actually be measured by an observer in a rotating frame of reference. We briefly discuss existing experimental evidence that supports the OT approach, but point out that there appears to be little awareness in the physics community of this
problem or its resolution. We use both methods to transform the electrostatic and magnetic fields generated by rotating charged spherical shells from an inertial into a co-rotating system. We also briefly describe how such an arrangement of shells could be used to measure rotation relative to the fixed stars.


Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2020


  • special relativity, electromagnetism, rotating frame