Sunday, December 6, 2015

Miami's Second Foucault Pendulum

 I'm a sucker for science experiments. I like them even more when they're large.Graduates of Miami  University, both Tom (1979) and myself (1971) visited our Alma-mater on Saturday (12/5) with that in mind.

 They've constructed another foucault pendulum on campus, this one housed in the new physics building, Kreger Hall. I have visited the original one in Culler a number of times. Says the Miamian Magazine, "Physic's first pendulum had to stay in Culler when the department moved as as it was too big to budge."

 Though all foucault pendulum's work the same way (click here for a description), this new version certainly is more beautiful to look at. It glows with a turquoise green and is built in layers of glass.

 The pendulum is the work of artist David Griggs. A short video is posted here.

 The pendulum is named after Leon Foucault, who first constructed in 1851(Paris) to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.

 Grigg's model is made in three layers. According to the Miamian, "The top layer is an astronomical clock, the middle is a map of Oxford from the 1800's, and the bottom represents the Northern Hemisphere's constellations."

 The pendulum's "bob" is hung from a long wire, affixed to the ceiling. Tom thought the greenish light was projected from above as well. I couldn't tell the source of the light. It's quite an ethereal-looking glow, as though it has no source at all.

Kreger Hall - Miami University

 Since it was a Saturday, the main doors of the building were locked. Tom decided there must be students studying there and that one door must surely be open. I was a bit surprised when he found it. Indeed there  were students working inside the building, books open, laptops glowing, and even a few offices were occupied.
 The trip was not wasted.

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