Oscillations and Waves

Physical Pendulum

A rigid rod executes simple harmonic motion about an adjustable pivot point.

What It Shows

The period of a physical pendulum is measured and compared to theory. The pivot point, and thus the period, is adjustable along the length of the pendulum making it possible to demonstrate that there is a pivot point where the period is a minimum (stationary point).

How It Works

The physical pendulum is a 1/2" diameter × 100cm long brass rod. A collar with a "knife edge" can be fixed anywhere along the length of the pendulum and serves as the pivot point. The period...

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Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion

Simultaneous shadow projection of circular motion and bouncing weight on spring.

What It Shows

One of the simplest of periodic motions is uniform circular motion. By shadow projecting both uniform circular motion and oscillatory simple harmonic motion onto a screen, one can show that these two seemingly different kinds of motion are actually identical.

How It Works

A 8 cm diameter plastic ball mounted near the edge of a 46 cm diameter disk undergoes uniform circular motion. The disk, oriented vertically, is driven by a 57 RPM motor.1 A large...

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Simple Harmonic Motion Demonstrator

Relation between circular motion and linear displacement on overhead projector.

What It Shows

Uniform circular motion can be shown to be the superposition of simple harmonic motions in two mutually perpendicular directions. This apparatus gives the audience a visual display of how one dimensional simple harmonic motion varies in unison with circular motion.


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Reversible (Kater's) Pendulum

A physical pendulum with two adjustable knife edges for an accurate determination of "g".

What It Shows

An important application of the pendulum is the determination of the value of the acceleration due to gravity. By adding a second knife-edge pivot and two adjustable masses to the physical pendulum described in the Physical Pendulum demo, the value of g can be determined to 0.2% precision.

How It Works

Using a simple pendulum, the value of g can be determined by...

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