long pendulum performs a strange chaotic dance. Visitors set a
pendulum in motion, yet it does not behave like a simple pendulum
because it is tipped with a strong magnet. On the table beneath
it are three strong magnets oriented to repel the bob. Visitors
position the three magnets about on the table to produce different
chaotic paths; they also choose the starting position and speed
of the pendulum. The sensitive dependence of motion on initial
conditions is a property of chaotic systems. The name Strange
Attractor was given to this exhibit because due to arrangements
of the three table magnets, the pendulum will come to rest at
different locations depending on where and how the pendulum is
started. These final states "attract" the pendulum.
This behavior is similar to that of mathematical strange attractors.