Saturday, November 26, 2011

Physics or Ballet?

You may know that the period of a pendulum is proportional to the square root of the length of the line suspending the weight - ie., the longer the pendulum, the slower it swings.

Harvard students built a device with a series of 15 pendulums in a row, each one slightly longer than its neighbor, then set them in motion and filmed the result.
The resulting patterns in this short video are quite fascinating to watch....sure it’s physics but maybe it's ballet.

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.

1 comment:

Pondside said...

Ballet, definitely ballet!


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