I guess NBCnews Science and I were on the exact same page when we put together the pieces of Miley Cyrus's new music video, really funny vines of college bros swinging on a giant pendulum and the Google Doodle in honor of the birthday of the man who created pendulum.

So everyone is talking about it, Miley is swinging on it, but what is it?  I know a pendulum is something that swings around but what exactly is it?

A pendulum, "Mechanically, is one of the simplest experiments possible: a heavy weight attached to a very long string or cable that is free to swing in any vertical plane."(Sparkes, 2013) The weight is then pulled back and set into motion, but without any horizontal force. It is then let go and left free to swing. The pendulum then swings and appears to be changing direction over time, however, the earth rotating beneath it makes it seem like its traveling in a direction. The pendulum, in fact, is really still swinging on the "same plane relative to the rest of the Universe." (Saprkes, miley-cyrus-wrecking-ball-prompts-university-to-remove-pendulum-statue.jpg2013)

Well rock on Miley, you are literally swinging on the same plane relative to the rest of the Universe! Who would have thought?

But seriously, Google honored physicist Leon Foucault because he used a pendulum to prove that earth was rotating on an axis. (Davidson, 2013)

Check out this video of a pendulum at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, it's very calming to watch, but not as soulful as Miley's music video for Wrecking Ball.


Haha, very creative! A great way to connect science with pop culture! I do have a question for you, though! Why does the pendulum swing in different directions? I understand that it swings freely until intertia slows and eventually stops it, but why does it continue to change the direction it swings in? In the interum, check this out: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=nic+cage+wrecking+ball&id=297345D1848A125C7CEAFCE1D52F53BE36AF5A86&FORM=IQFRBA

This is such a good article, so sad that it is for academic purposes because I literally have to staunch the Miley jokes in order to finish the comment. One interesting fact about the pendulum is that regardless how hard you push it on each try, if you get the angle right, it would take the same amount of time to make each swing. This article tests and proves it mathematically http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2010/01/13/period-of-a-pendulum/

This post reminded me of something that my teacher had in his classroom in elementary school, Newton's Cradle. If you don't know what it is (I know a lot of people do, but don't realize what it's called), it consists of small metal balls (usually five or seven) which, when swung (like a pendulum!) collide with each other and create an equal, opposite, and essentially never ending reaction. Our neighbors down the road at Lock Haven University have constructed an explanation and analysis of this device. I was fascinated by them when I was younger, and think it is a cool development of a pendulum!

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