Get ready to spend a lot of time gazing at your new Foucault Pendulum! It’s a simple-looking pendulum that rotates around an axis and makes beautiful mandala style patterns in the sand of the base. Believe it or not, what you’re actually seeing is a demonstration of the Earth’s rotation around the sun (and also perhaps the precession of the Earth through the solar system)!
How does a Foucault Pendulum Work?
OK, so if you have some time on your hands, look at some videos of Physics teachers on youtube to explain this in detail…there are equations with squiggly lines and stuff, but the easy answer for people who aren’t scientists or mathematicians is that if set up correctly, the pendulum swings along a fixed plane… it’s the Earth that is moving and causing the wobbles in the pattern! Wow, did that blow your mind?
Léon Foucault first demonstrated this pendulum experiment way back in 1851. People are still fascinated by these fulcrum pendulums today which is why you can see large scale versions of them in museums all over the world! You don’t have to visit a museum to experience the Foucault pendulum in action though, you can get one today for your desk or to give as a cool physics desk toy for your dad or husband!