Chaotic Pendulum

The influence of tiny changes in starting positions on dynamic systems


The double pendulum

Chaos theory studies the behaviour of dynamic systems which are highly dependent on their initial conditions. One of the most simple dynamic systems with chaotic behaviour is the double pendulum.

A double pendulum is a pendulum with another pendulum attached to its end. When you let this construction swing to and fro, you cannot foresee its motion. In our exhibit “Chaotic Pendulum”, visitors have the chance to start and watch three double pendula right next to each other.

To our eyes, the starting positions of the three pendula may look identical. But when the visitors start the exhibit, one thing becomes obvious right away: Every pendulum swings differently – chaotically. Visitors gain direct proof of chaos theory’s basic premise, namely the sensitivity of dynamic systems to their initial position.