350 Year Old Pendulum Clock Mystery Resolved

Have you ever wondered why pendulum clocks hanging from the same wall can influence each other and synchronize over time?

Christiaan Huygens (the inventor of the pendulum clock) while lying in his sick bed observed that no matter how the pendulum on his clocks started, they end up swinging in exactly the opposite direction from each other within half an hour, for centuries, the cause of this effect called The Synchronization Phenomenon was unknown.

The researchers experimented with two complex pendulum clocks known as monumental clocks, they placed both clocks on the same wooden table. As they expected, the motion of the clock pendulums synchronized over time;¬†However, unlike the clocks in Huygens’ experiment, the clocks did not swing in opposite directions, rather, they unexpectedly moved in exactly the same direction. Moreover, while the clocks stayed in sync, they became slower and more inaccurate over time, the scientists said.

The researchers found that the support connecting the clocks (in this case, the wooden table) could serve as a kind of communication channel between the clocks, which they could use to exchange energy. The rigidity, thickness and mass of this support can influence the way in which the clocks synchronize and how inaccurate they become, the researchers said.

This is also in line with Huygens suggestion that the synchronous behavior of the clocks he observed might be caused by “the imperceptible vibrations of the beam on which they are hanging,” said Pena. Huygens “was so brilliant that he gave the correct explanation for his discovery without using a single equation.”

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