Experiment 16: The Pendulum Wave Machine

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A row of pendulums create hypnotic patterns as they come in and out of phase with each other.

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Experiment 16: The Pendulum Wave Machine
In this experiment, fifteen simple pendulums, each slightly longer than the next, create a mesmerizing display almost like a kaleidoscope. When you start them all swinging, they swing together. But as they continue to swing, different pendulums synchronize with each other while others fall out of phase. At one point, every third pendulum synchronizes, so you can see three distinct “waves” in the swinging pendulums. After a few more seconds, every other pendulum is synchronized, so you can see two waves moving through each other. And finally, amazingly, after a minute or so, all the pendulums come back into phase with each other, as the machine returns to one synchronized wave.

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More Cool Stuff


Pendulum waves – with bowling balls.

Classic video from Harvard.

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