A pendulum is something hanging from a fixed point which, when force is applied, swings back, forth, up, and down due to gravity and inertia (Beynon 1). Pendulums can range in shape, size, and weight. An example of a pendulum can range from a swinging chandelier to a washer tied to some string and hung from the ceiling. Galileo was a famous scientist who studied pendulums. He discovered that the period, or time for one full swing, was always the same on a pendulum no matter what the weight on the end is or how wide the swing. He found that the only factor that affected the period was the length of the pendulum (Fleisher 18-20). With this knowledge and some simple equations the acceleration of gravity on Earth can be found.
5 different pendulums with different lengths, stopwatch, meter stick
Start each pendulum from approximately 10°
Let the pendulum go for 10 full swings
Time dhow long the 10 swings took and divide this time by 10 to get the period
Repeat this same procedure 3 times on 5 different pendulums.
With proper measurements and times a relative acceleration can be found for the gravity of Earth. Though calculations are difficult to be exact because of the effects of human error and air friction, they are relatively close to the accepted value of 9.8 m/s².
The pendulum became a way to not only develop a more sophisticated clock but also as a proof of the rotation of the planet Earth.
Beynon, Zinaida. About Foucault Pendulums. 1999. California Academy of Sciences. 21 Nov. 2005 .
Fleisher, Paul. Objects in Motion. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1987. 18-22. [continues]
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