Mechanics/Dynamics/Motion

Chaotic Pendulum

An apparently simple set of pendulums is given an initial twist. One's intuition says that the resulting motion of this simple system should be, if not simple, at least predictable. Intuition doesn't work with this device though, and its motion is an extremely complicated, and somewhat whimsical, twisting and turning that defies the predictive powers of physics. The motion of the device is chaotic. If the initial conditions are truly identical, the pendulum will repeat itself exactly. Chaotic or nonlinear motion occurs whenever a small difference in the initial conditions make a large difference in the outcome.



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