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  Sunday  June 5  2011    10: 21 PM

ain't science wonderful?

Swinginí physics

"There are four things most people donít know, or simply donít appreciate, about physics: 1) the right answer to a question is sometimes surprising; 2) itís simpler than you think sometimes; 3) that simplicity can spawn terrible complexity; and 4) in simplicity, complexity, and the border in between lies great beauty.

"For example, I bet if you went up to people on the street and asked them why different pendula (I prefer Latin plurals) swing with different times, theyíd say it was the weight of the bob at the end. But itís not that at all: itís actually the length of the pendulum itself that is the major factor in determining the swing time (called the period) ó the mass of the bob has nothing at all to do with it! A heavy bob and light bob will still have the same period if the length of the string is the same (try it yourself).

"Surprising and simple, right? So what about the other two things, complexity and beauty? Well, hereís a perfect example of that:"