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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: September 2010
  • First published in: 1901

On the Effect of the Internal Friction of Fluids on the Motion of Pendulums


The great importance of the results obtained by means of the pendulum has induced philosophers to devote so much attention to the subject, and to perform the experiments with such a scrupulous regard to accuracy in every particular, that pendulum observations may justly be ranked among those most distinguished by modern exactness. It is unnecessary here to enumerate the different methods which have been employed, and the several corrections which must be made, in order to deduce from the actual observations the result which would correspond to the ideal case of a simple pendulum performing indefinitely small oscillations in vacuum. There is only one of these corrections which bears on the subject of the present paper, namely, the correction usually termed the reduction to a vacuum. On account of the inconvenience and expense attending experiments in a vacuum apparatus, the observations are usually made in air, and it then becomes necessary to apply a small correction, in order to reduce the observed result to what would have been observed had the pendulum been swung in a vacuum. The most obvious effect of the air consists in a diminution of the moving force, and consequent increase in the time of vibration, arising from the buoyancy of the fluid. The correction for buoyancy is easily calculated from the first principles of hydrostatics, and formed for a considerable time the only correction which it was thought necessary to make for reduction to a vacuum.

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