Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pendulum waves

If you ever want to see a visual representation of patterns in nature (or mathematics), or just like to be hypnotized, then line up a group of pendulums with varying lengths and swing them together (or just watch this video):

The various speeds of the swings causes a palindromic succession of shapes to appear: 1 long "snake", 4 small lines rotating around each other, 3 lines rotating and then reversing rotation, 2 lines that rotate clockwise then line up and rotate counter clockwise, 3 lines rotating and then reversing, 4 small lines rotating, then the snake again swimming in the opposite direction. What's interesting is the pattern is the same if you watch the video in reverse, and the entire cycle takes 1 minute to reach the starting point again.

All of this from the simple action of a swinging weight.

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