HomeThe Foucault Pendulum

The Foucault Pendulum

Created by the artist, David Griggs, The Foucault Pendulum was unveiled in the newly renovated Kregar Hall in 2015. David Griggs, earned a master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Colorado at Boulder; he is responsible for more than forty-five commissioned pieces of artwork in Canada and the United States. According to David Briggs, “My work embraces the character of a situation and embodies the spirit of a site.” Miami’s Foucault Pendulum is named after French physicist, Leon Foucault, who introduced the first Pendulum at the World’s Fair in 1851. The Pendulum is a scientific instrument that was created to tell time and latitude while providing evidence that the Earth is rotating. The pendulum functions, as described by Briggs,” While the rotation of the earth gives rise to the Foucault Pendulum’s precession, the pendulum’s swing must keep going. The periodic back-and-forth- motion of the pendulum is subject to air drag and other loss mechanisms, so oscillation would cease over the course of several hours. To make up for the loss of mechanical energy, a donut-shaped magnet is installed near the top end of the cable. By engineering the magnet at appropriate times just long enough, the cable is attracted and actually touches the magnet each time it arrives at the turn-around point, hence the “clank” sound.” The design of the Miami’s Foucault Pendulum, was based on Briggs’ first impressions Miami University’s campus. “The design of the pendulum and its finishes were inspired by what's around it and the nice architecture, the fine finishes, the new facilities, the Armstrong Center, some of the really nice campus amenities,” said Griggs. It is also meant to be a substitute for the pendulum that was located in Culler Hall that could not be relocated when the department of Physics at Miami moved locations. The fixed point on the pendulum, located on the ceiling, is an illuminated glass cone. The glass cone is engraved with real images taken from the Hubble Space telescope. Suspended from a 22 foot long galvanized steel cable, is a two hundred and thirty pound solid brass pendulum bob. The pendulum’s base is constructed of three layers of etched glass. Each layer in independently illuminated and representing ideas in concepts in the subject of physics and share a connection with its location in Oxford. The top layer of glass on the pendulum’s base contains an etching of the Latin phrase, attributed to Virgil, which translates to English as, In the meanwhile time, the irrevocable time flees, while we, captured by our love of details, wonder around. Also etched on this layer is a rendition of the Prague Orioj, constructed in 1410, it is the oldest astronomical clock that still functions and the third oldest clock ever constructed. The clock tells the time, date, and the season based on a three hundred and sixty five day cycle. The middle layer of glass on the pendulum’s base contains an etching of the map of Oxford, Ohio, from the 1860s. On the map is a square, which represents Miami UNiversity’s location in Oxford, and can be read when the viewer is facing north. The bottom layer of glass on the pendulum is a representation of the constellation figures of the Northern Hemisphere. Under the bottom layer of glass, on the floor, is a traditional compass rose comprised of three different colors of water-jet cut granite. The compass rose is appropriately positioned by its location in Kergar Hall. “Back in the Swing of Things: Foucault Pendulum in Motion at Kreger.” Miami University, miamioh.edu/news/top-stories/2015/08/pendulum.html.