Simple Harmonic (and non-harmonic) Motion

From Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations:

What it shows: Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and random motion. One might call this kinetic art and the choreography of the dance of the pendulums is stunning! Aliasing and quantum revival can also be shown.

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.

Setting it up: The pendulum waves are best viewed from above or down the length of the apparatus. Video projection is a must for a large lecture hall audience. You can play the video below to see the apparatus in action. One instance of interest to note is at 30 seconds (halfway through the cycle), when half of the pendulums are at one amplitude maximum and the other half are at the opposite amplitude maximum.

Enjoy,

Mike

Meet the Author

Mike Corso

Greetings! I'm an SEO Specialist at Gartner in Stamford CT and an original Web Viking. I've been running Cool Site of the Day since 1998 and continue to be amazed at what people publish. Have a cool site or app? Click on the 'submit your site' link at top.

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