1. Is anyone able to offer an explanation for this beautiful effect for me and my twelve-year-old daughter? Thanks if you can.

    1. So is this kind of like watching a queue of traffic in front of you waiting to turn right (for arguments sake) and their inticator lights flash out of time but gradually get closer and then flash perfectly in time for a moment then goes back out of sync?

  2. The pendulums are all different lengths, from short to long. The period of a pendulum depends on its length, and so they all have slightly different periods.

    They all oscillate with their characteristic period, and the patterns you see are as they go in and out of (temporary) sync with each other. They are all operating as separate pendulums – that they are all attached to one long metal bar is not significant.

    1. Use these pendulum lengths (in cm): 34.358, 33.049, 31.814, 30.647, 29.542, 28.497, 27.505, 26.565, 25.672, 24.824, 24.016, 23.248, 22.516, 21.818, and 21.152 cm. The values have too many decimal places because my gravitational constant was only accurate to one decimal place but they should get you close. You’ll want to have a mechanism to shift the lengths slightly anyway. These lengths should get you from 51 to 65 oscillations per minute in 15 steps.

  3. If a pendulum’s swinging quite free,
    It’s always a marvel to me,
    That each tick plus each tock
    Of the grandfather clock
    Is 2 pi root L over g.

  4. Well done–I remember seeing this in a physics class more than 50 years ago, and learned from it why planets are in their particular orbits (based on size, weight, etc); this definitely gets rid of the fable of an “unseen hand” controlling anything. This is refreshing.

    1. It’s actually even simpler than that – weight/mass doesn’t have any effect on either the pendulum or the orbits (other than the controlling gravitational field, eg the earth for the pendulum or the sun for a solar system orbit), it’s the same principle that makes two different objects fall at the same rate. One of the big questions in physics is whether gravitational mass and inertial mass are the same, and experiments like this so far suggest that it is.

  5. Incredible, science made so visible… I think I am going to recreate this for our visitors to the observatory…

  6. It seems to me, at first glance, that if you wanted to replicate this, the lengths of each pendulum must have a logarithmic relationship with the ones around it to reproduce this effect. I’d have to guess that if you haphazardly made each a little longer than the previous one, or even if you made each one a centimeter longer than the previous one, the effect wouldn’t match what we see in the video.

    Does anyone have the math background to confirm this? Mine isn’t up to the challenge.

  7. From a female perspective (most replies seem to be men) I wouldn’t exactly call in ‘beautiful’… it’s interesting and clever but I think it might be a man thing to think it’s beautiful…

  8. So beautiful, it makes me feel like both patterns and randomness are part of the design once set in motion. Got to love math, physics, watching these patterns evolve. Thanks!

  9. As I watched the video, I couldn’t help wondering if the balls would eventually sync back up. I was delighted to see them do exactly that. (Behave yourself, ball # 5). I found it most interesting how the brain finds patterns as three, four or five balls would appear to sync their swings. How does it make me feel? Joyous!

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