• Valerie Illingworth
Part of the Macmillan Dictionary Series book series (DICTS)


Mach’s principle. The idea put forward by Ernst Mach in the 1870s that the inertial properties of a particular piece of matter were in some way attributable to the influence of all the other matter in the universe. The *inertia of a body is its reluctance to change its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line. According to Mach, inertia can be considered to arise from some (unspecified) interaction between the body and the background presence of distant stars and galaxies; a body in total isolation would not therefore possess inertia.


Solar Wind Molecular Cloud Solar Mass Bright Star Iron Meteorite 
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© Laurence Urdang Associates Ltd 1979

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  • Valerie Illingworth

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