Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pendulum Waves

The natural world is just too cool.

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Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.

For more details see the Harvard Natural Sciences Lectures Demonstrations site.

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.

This apparatus was built from a design published by Richard Berg [Am J Phys 59(2), 186-187 (1991)] at the University of Maryland. The particular apparatus shown here was built by Harvard's Nils Sorensen.

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I am just way too tempted to build one of these for my own entertainment now!

1 comment:

  1. That is just too cool for words! Maralee and I where both entertained! Of course, doesn't take much for us old folks.... :-) Ed