FreeThought Fort Wayne

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Get your physics on!

Posted by Andy D. on May 13, 2008

Somebody explain this to me. James Randi showcased this clip at the end of this week’s SWIFT. I don’t think it is Einstein’s special relativity because the motion isn’t uniform. Maybe it is general relativity with warped spacetime? My guess is we are seeing Newton’s third law in action which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This feeds back to the first law Newton’s First Law (also known as the Law of Inertia) states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an object in uniform motion tends to stay in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net external force. I will hunt for the answer. I would love for you to answer this for me!

Unlike Sally Kern’s legislation in Oklahoma for religious viewpoints anti-discrimination act (or whatever form of academic freedom they will choose next to slip religion into science class), God did it will not be an acceptable answer!


3 Responses to “Get your physics on!”

  1. Why it happens? Good question.

    Clearly it has to do with the soda cans that the board is put on. You can notice that the cans move a little. My guess is that on the table the metronomes can’t interact with each other but once placed on the cans the metronomes are able to sync their motions together.

    It also appears it takes a coupe of times before they sync for good which seems to me like their is some kind of “oscillation” in their motions before that go into “permanent” sync.

  2. neuralgourmet said


    Skeptigator’s got the right idea. Here’s a page that talks about this effect, first observed by Huygens in 1657, in detail.

    As one metronome’s pendulum bob moves to the right, this pushes the base to the left (because of momentum conservation). The base moving to the left then pushes the other metronome’s pendulum bob to the right—i.e. in the same direction as the first pendulum. Thus the slightly faster pendulum gives a kick (through the base) to the slower metronome causing the slower pendulum to speed up.

  3. andyscathouse said

    Wow, that was fast neural. Thanks for the link. I learned something today.

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