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00:56 IWF (Göttingen) German 2003

Präzession eines rotierenden Rades

A spinning top (gyroscope) does not follow a torque in the same way as, for example, a top at rest. Rather, it moves sideways, it "precesses". This startling behavior will be shown here. The top is a bicycle wheel with its rim filled with lead wire. It can be suspended on a rope dangling from the ceiling. The wheel is spun while holding its axle horizontal. Then, one end of the axle is attached to the rope. The weight of the wheel and the tension in the rope together cause a torque which, however, does not turn the axle into the vertical position, as would happen if the wheel were not spinning. Instead, the axle, which indicates the direction of the wheels angular momentum, circles on a horizontal plane around the point on which it is suspended. This sideways motion of a top under the influence of a torque is called "precession".
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: IWF (Göttingen)
  • Language: German
02:42 IWF (Göttingen) German 2003

Drehstuhlexperimente zur Erhaltung des Drehimpulses

Conservation of angular momentum around the vertical axis of a rotating chair. A man sitting on a rotating chair with very little friction uses weights, a spinning wheel, and a wooden hammer with a long handle to demonstrate the vector nature of the angular momentum as well as its conservation in the absence of external torques. This setup allows to limit the observation to a single (the vertical) component of the angular momentum.
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: IWF (Göttingen)
  • Language: German
04:49 IWF (Göttingen) German 2003

Freie und erzwungene Schwingungen eines Drehpendels (Pohlsches Rad)

Basic properties of harmonic oscillators on a torsional pendulum, specifically their free and driven oscillations. For the latter, the transient oscillations will be shown, before the steady state has been reached. The torsional pendulum consists of a circular copper ring with an eddy current brake, and a torsional spring. One end of the spring is attached to the copper ring, the other end to a motor via an eccentric-and-rod mechanism. For the experiment, another pendulum, also specifically designed for lecture demonstrations, will be used. It sits on an optical bench and is projected onto the front wall of the lecture hall, together with a meter indicating the exciting frequencies used for the driven oscillations. Two pointers, one attached to the pendulum, the other to the eccentric-and-rod mechanism used for moving the spring, allow observation of the phase difference between the exciting torque and the angular displacement of the pendulum.
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: IWF (Göttingen)
  • Language: German
01:32 IWF (Göttingen) German 2003


Principle of a gyrocompass using a bicycle wheel on a rotating chair. A bicycle wheel in a fork is mounted on a chair. The fork is free to rotate around its axis which is inclined 45 degrees away from the vertical. As the chair rotates, the center of the wheel moves on a circle. The motion of its axle is observed by an experimenter on the chair, and also by a stationary observer (the movie camera). With the chair at rest, the wheel is started to spin, its angular momentum vector pointing in an arbitrary direction. When the chair is rotated, the axle of the wheel begins to oscillate. The oscillation is damped, and after a few periods, the axle of the wheel (which indicates the direction of its angular momentum) points towards the axis of rotation of the chair. When the chair is made to rotate in the opposite direction, the wheel flips 180 degrees, and after a few periods of oscillation again points towards the axis of the chair.
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: IWF (Göttingen)
  • Language: German
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