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ENGD1005 Mechanical Principles

Simple Pendulum

Dr Daniel Paluszczyszyn

The Theory behind the simple pendulum:

“The simple pendulum is an idealization of a real pendulum. It consists of a point mass, m, attached
to an infinitely light rigid cord of length L that is itself attached to a frictionless pivot point. If
displaced from it’s vertical equilibrium position, this idealized pendulum will oscillate with a constant
amplitude forever. There is no damping of motion from fiction at the pivot or from the air. Newton’s
second law provides the equation of motion:

mL =−mg sinθ ,
d t2
θ = Angular displacement of the pendulum from the vertical position.
g= Acceleration due to gravity.
This equation may be simplified if we assume that the amplitude of oscillation is small and that
sin θ ≈ θ. The modified equation of motion is

d2θ g
+ θ=0.
d t2 L
The solution to this equation may be written as

θ=θ0 sin ⁡(wt +φ0 ),

Where θ0 is the angular amplitude of the swing,

√ L
Is the angular frequency, and φ 0 is the initial phase angle whose value depends on how the

pendulum was started, i.e., it’s initial conditions. The period of motion, in this linearized
approximation, is given by

T =2 π
√ g
Which is constant for a given pendulum.”


 To establish that the periodic time T of a simple pendulum is proportional to the square root
of its length L.

To verify for a simple pendulum that the periodic time T is given by T =2 π

To determine the acceleration due to gravity g.

√ g

 Pendulum
 Metre rule
 Stopwatch.


L,m 1.25 1.1 0.95 0.8 0.7 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1

t , sec
t1 22.08 20.71 19.43 17.81 16.66 14.15 12.61 10.60 8.57 5.99

t2 22.30 20.75 19.40 17.74 16.81 13.96 12.75 9.88 8.76 6.35

t3 22.33 20.92 19.35 17.82 16.21 13.94 12.67 10.91 8.99 6.50

T́ 2.22 2.10 1.94 1.78 1.70 1.40 1.27 1.08 0.87 0.63

ln ( T́ ) 0.80 0.74 0.66 0.58 0.50 0.34 0.24 0.07 -0.13 -0.47

ln ( L) 0.22 0.10 -0.05 -0.22 -0.36 -0.70 -0.92 -1.20 -1.61 -2.30

Discussion and Procedure

For this experiment myself and others in my group took turns to measure length, L of the pendulum
and took turns to time how long it took for it to swing 10 times. We used the metre rule to measure
the Length L and the stopwatch to measure the time t of how long it took to swing 10 times. We
noticed that the smaller the length L the shorter the time t it took to swing 10 times. We had to do
the experiment 3 times to reduce error, 3 times is a short number of times but because the session
was regulated and lack of better equipment that’s all we had to do, Mr Nikolay told us that normally
people will do it 100 times.

There were many factors that could have affected our results in this experiment, the first was the
cord not being the correct length. We adjusted the length of the cord manually so we could easily
have measured wrong. Also the person starting and stopping the stopwatch might have started it
too slow or too fast and ended it too slow or too fast.
We found T́ by using this formula:


√ g
To find ln ( T́ ) and ln (L¿)¿ we used our calculators and recorded the values in our table.


We carried out the experiment to prove this formula: T =2 π
√ g
While trying to prove that the formula works we realized that this experiment is dependent on
gravity, the reason being that gravity is different on each planet which would change the periodic
time. We learnt of errors that we possibly made and how to reduce the errors. We have verified that
the formula for periodic time T of a simple pendulum is proportional to the square root of its length.

Name: Nimi Lawson

P-Number: P2427157