MadSci Network: Physics

Re: can a pendulum swing perpetually in vacuum?

Date: Mon Sep 11 21:01:42 2000
Posted By: Sidney Chivers, , Nuclear Engineering, retired
Area of science: Physics
ID: 966693587.Ph

Yes, a pendulum would swing forever if there were no non-conservative forces 
acting to slow the pendulum.

No, it wouldn't be appropriate to think of it as perpetual motion in the same 
sense there are perpetual energy devices.  Energy was applied to start the 
pendulum swinging and the only reason a pendulum might continue to swing 
forever is the energy in the system is never reduced.

[note added by MadSci Admin:  In reality there would be some
(possibly very small) friction in the pendulum's mount or 
heat losses if the pendulum has a flex mount.  In either case,
a real pendulum will not swing forever.]

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