Saturday, 7 May 2011

Swinging Science, Harmony of the Spheres

I found this at John D Cook's The Endeavour web page and wanted to make sure my students get to see it...

It is described as "Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion." but I think the label should just be "SPOOKY". 


This is from the folks at Harvard Natural Science, and they give a little detail for the curious (that's you, right, you are curious)...

How it works: The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations. When all 15 pendulums are started together, they quickly fall out of sync--their relative phases continuously change because of their different periods of oscillation. However, after 60 seconds they will all have executed an integral number of oscillations and be back in sync again at that instant, ready to repeat the dance.
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