Mechanics, cosmology, and Mach's principle

Authors: Essén, H.
Document Type: Article
Pubstate: Published
Journal: European journal of physics
Volume: 34   139 - 145
Year: 2013


It is pointed out that recent cosmological findings seem to support the view that the mass/energy distribution of the universe defines the Newtonian inertial frames, as originally suggested by Mach. The background concepts of inertial frame, Newton’s second law and fictitious forces are clarified. A precise definition of Mach’s principle is suggested. Then, an approximation to general relativity discovered by Einstein, Infeld and Hoffmann is used and it is found that this precise formulation of Mach’s principle is realized provided the mass/energy density of the universe has a specific value. This value turns out to be twice the critical density. The implications of this approximate result are put into context.