Why Study the Simple Pendulum?
The empirical method of studying simple harmonic motion enables us to effectively analyze a phenomenon and explain it through deductive reasoning. This is the process of applying a general principle to a specific case. Continued experimentation is performed until a valid description or theory is proposed. Galileo used pendulums extensively in his experiments. Early in his career, he researched the characteristics of their motion. After investigating their behaviour he was able to use them as a time measure device in later experiments. Pendulums are mentioned in both Galileo’s Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences and Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. In these two works, Galileo discussed some of the major points he discovered about pendulums (Morgan, 1995).
Pendulums Nearly Return to Their Release Heights
Galileo observed that the bobs of pendulum nearly return to their release height, this fact demonstrated the conservation of energy, a principle that was not yet discovered at that time. As a recreation, pendulums were released from different heights, and the height of the pendulum returned to was noted and was compared to the initial heights. No quantitative measurements were made, but in every trial, the pendulum’s return height was similar to its release height (Morgan, 1995).
All Pendulums Eventually Come to Rest with the Lighter Ones Coming to Rest Faster
Galileo noted that the lighter pendulum comes to rest faster than heavier pendulums. As a test of his observation, two pendulums, nearly identical except for their bobs of different weights (cork and lead), were released at the same time and height. It was pulled back about 5 degrees, the cork bob came to rest while the lead bob was still moving. More trials were done and it revealed that same agreement with Galileo’s observation (Morgan, 1995).
The Period is Independent of the Bob Weight
Galileo claimed to have hung pendulums of...