More formally, suppose M is an n-dimensional Riemannian manifold, is a geodesic on , and is a point on . Then there exists local coordinates around such that:
- For small t, represents the geodesic near ,
- On , the metric tensor is the Euclidean metric,
- On , all Christoffel symbols vanish.
Such coordinates are called Fermi coordinates and are named after the Italian physicist Enrico N. Fermi. The above properties are only valid on the geodesic. For example, if all Christoffel symbols vanish near , then the manifold is flat near .
- Manasse and Misner , Fermi Normal Coordinates and Some Basic Concepts in Differential Geometry. Journal of Mathematical Physics 4:6, 1963.
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