The Pendulum: A Case Study in Physics

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The pendulum: a case study in physics is a unique book in several ways. Firstly, it is a comprehensive quantitative study of one physical system, the pendulum, from the viewpoint of elementary and more advanced classical physics, modern chaotic dynamics, and quantum mechanics. In addition, coupled pendulums and pendulum analogs of superconducting devices are also discussed. Secondly, this book treats the physics of the pendulum within a historical and cultural context, showing, for example, that the pendulum has been intimately connected with studies of the earth's density, the earth's motion, and timekeeping. While primarily a physics book, the work provides significant added value through the use of relevant cultural and historical vignettes. This approach offers an alternative to the usual modern physics courses. The text is amply illustrated and augmented by exercises at the end of each chapter.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"a book devoted thematically to the history and physics of the pendulum is most welcomeGregory Baker and James Blackburn do an excellent job of weaving physical explanations with literary quotes and amusing anecdotes from the history of science. The authors have written their account for undergraduate physics majorsThe book offers a tour of different incarnations of the pendulum. An enjoyable theme and variations, it is well suited for use as a resource or as a recommended text in an advanced course on mechanincs."—Science

"In this well-illustrated treatment of the study of pendulum, Baker and Blackburn provide fascinating information about the history of the pendulum and what scientists thought it did, the revolution wrought by Foucault, the special cases of the torsion pendulum, the chaotic pendulum, the quantum pendulum, and coupled pendulums, the effects of superconductivity, and the most familiar to most of us, the pendulum clock. They include information on special interests in the appendices, such as the inverted pendulum and the Longnow clock."—SciTech Book News

"Pendulums simple, compound, chaotic, and quantum are described and analyzed in this concise book. Setting the tone, the small ample oscillations of a simple pendulum with no friction are modeled with differential equations. Time series graphs and phase plane diagrams are introduced for the simple pendulum and used later in the book for more complicated pendulums, especially the chaotic pendulum. Good historical and cultural background enliven the book, as do detailed drawings of historically significant apparatus such as the torsion pendulums used by Cavendish for his experiments on Earth's gravity and by Coulomb for his experiments on the fundamental electrostatic force. Chapters on modern topicsare supported with excellent use of graphs, diagrams, historical background, and differential equations...Fascinating aspects of the Foucault pendulum, Newton's Cradle, and other well-known pendulums are provided." —CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198567547
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/4/2005
  • Pages: 594
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory L. Baker is Professor of Physics at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, Pennsylvania, USA. James A. Blackburn is Professor of Physics at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Pendulums Somewhat Simple
3. Pendulums Less Simple
4. The Foucault Pendulum
5. The Torsion Pendulum
6. The Chaotic Pendulum
7. Coupled Pendulums
8. The Quantum Pendulum
9. Superconductivity and the Pendulum
10. The Pendulum Clock
A. Pendulum Q
B. The Inverted Pendulum
C. The Double Pendulum
D. The Cradle Pendulum
E. The Long Now Clock
F. The Blackburn Pendulum

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