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Foucault pendulum

A Foucault pendulum, or Foucault's pendulum, named after the French physicist Leon Foucault, was conceived as an experiment to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth; its action is a result of the Coriolis effect.

It is a tall pendulum free to oscillate in any vertical plane and ideally should include some sort of motor so that it can run continuously rather than have its motion damped by air resistance.

At either the North Pole or South Pole, the plane of oscillation of a pendulum remains pointing in the same direction with respect to the fixed stars, while the Earth rotates underneath it, taking one sidereal day to complete a rotation.

When a Foucault pendulum is suspended somewhere on the equator, then the plane of oscillation of the Foucault pendulum is at all times co-rotating with the rotation of the Earth.

What happens at other latitudes is an intermediate between these two effects.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Foucault pendulum", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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May 24, 2015

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