1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why does a pendulum move as if it has a mind of its own

  1. Jan 22, 2006 #1
    My teacher for Physics hns proposed an extra credit bonus if any one could answer this question dealing with a pendulm. Why does the pendulm move as if it had a mind of its own. Refering to the circular motion the pendulm starts making after a couple seconds. When the pendulm is released to go in a back and forth motion (a straight line) it starts off straight but then starts to make a circular motion, usually counter clockwise. What is the reason in lamens terms for it's circular path. Please!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2006 #2

    Integral

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In a Lab room pendulum such motion is due to small motions of the mounting bracket and/or non-uniformities of the mount. I suppose if you are using a wound string it could cause a torque that would add components of motion causing the circular motion.

    Now if you have a very long pendulum mounted with a very ridged mounting you will be able to observe an apparent motion of the swing path caused by the the rotation of the earth (see Foucault Pendulum. This is not related to the circular motion you see in the lab.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?