Pendulum waves: A lesson in aliasing

James A Flaten, Kevin A. Parendo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A set of uncoupled pendula may be used to exhibit "pendulum waves," patterns that alternately look like traveling waves, standing waves, and chaos. The pendulum patterns cycle spectacularly in a time that is large compared to the oscillation period of the individual pendula. In this article we derive a continuous function to explain the pendulum patterns using a simple extension to the equation for traveling waves in one dimension. We show that the cycling of the pendulum patterns arises from aliasing of this underlying continuous function, a function that does not cycle in time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-782
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2001


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