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Homework Help: Harmonic Motion and The Coriolis Effect

  1. Apr 24, 2007 #1
    I think that this is the proper place for this, but move it if I'm wrong.

    I'm conducting a physics project that has to do with what I think is the coriolis effect and simple harmonic motion. If a free swinging pendulum is let swing from a point over a level sand pit, as it swings, it will leave trails in the sand. But the trails are not a linear, back and forth motion. The pendulum swings back and forth within a circlular pattern, making equal periods as it swings. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with earth's rotation, but im not sure what.

    1: What exactly is the coriolis effect?
    2: Is the coriolis effect making the pendulum swing in a circle?
    3: From what i can find, the coriolis effect has nothing to do with earth's rotation directly, but a rotating frame of reference. Is this applicable to earth's rotation?
    4: Is there any background information that would be cool to apply or include in this presentation?
    5: Any other cool project ideas that have something to do with simple harmonic motion would be appreciated.


    Oh, BTW, I'm also looking into doing an almost completely computer-generated presentation on something to do with either Time dialation, plasma, nuclear physics, or something neat with sub-atomic particles. Any ideas for this would also be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2007 #2
    i recommend searching google for what is known as a foucalut pendulum
    any classical mechanics text will show u all u need to know about this
    its sort of tricky as u have to have rotating frame of reference
    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect
  4. Apr 25, 2007 #3

    Gotta love Wikipedia. :)

    thanks nate,
  5. May 8, 2007 #4
    okay, im trying to write a program to display a foucalut's pendulum. That covers a physical demonstration. I'm going to talk about what it is and what it shows. But....

    I need to answer some sort of question... HELP!!!!!
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