What is Foucault’s Pendulum installed in new Parliament buidling? Explained

May 30, 2023 09:12 PM IST

Foucault’s Pendulum is the largest of its kind in India, standing at a towering height of 22 meters and weighing a substantial 36 kilograms.

India's newly inaugurated Parliament building, unveiled on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, boasts several new features and installations compared to the old structure. One notable addition is the historical ‘Sengol’, a sceptre positioned next to the chair of the Lok Sabha Speaker in the chamber. Another intriguing installation is ‘Foucault's Pendulum’ and can be found in the gallery section of the Constitutional Hall, adding to the new Parliament's unique elements.

Foucault’s Pendulum has been placed in the new Parliament building's Constitutional Hall.(Twitter/@ncsmgoi)
Foucault’s Pendulum has been placed in the new Parliament building's Constitutional Hall.(Twitter/@ncsmgoi)

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The National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) based in Kolkata took charge of installing the Foucault's Pendulum. According to The Indian Express report, this pendulum is the largest of its kind in India, standing at a towering height of 22 meters and weighing a substantial 36 kilograms. Similar to any other pendulum, Foucault's Pendulum possesses characteristics that pique one's curiosity. Let us delve into further details about its discovery.

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Foucault’s Pendulum history and science behind

-An experiment on Foucault's Pendulum was first carried out in 1851 by French scientist Leon Foucault, aiming to demonstrate the Earth's rotation, according to a Britannica report.

-The experimental arrangement entailed suspending a heavy object at a height using a string, enabling unrestricted swinging in all directions. Once set in motion, the pendulum gradually altered its alignment over time. For example, if it commenced swinging in a north-south direction, it would gradually shift towards an east-west direction.

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-The experiment concluded that “pendulum does not change its plane of motion, but the ground beneath it does.” When aligned along the Earth's axis at the north and south poles, the pendulum returned precisely to its original position in “24 hours”.

-This phenomenon can be attributed to the pendulum's fundamental principle of swinging with a consistent pattern and operating under the influence of the invisible force of gravity. At other latitudes, it takes longer for the pendulum to realign with its original swinging orientation.

-At the equator, the pendulum is perpendicular to the axis of rotation, resulting in it never altering its swing orientation.

Foucault’s Pendulum in New Parliament

The Indian Express report said that Foucault's Pendulum is suspended from the ceiling of the Central Foyer in India's newly constructed Parliament building. To facilitate the pendulum's movement, a circular installation has been specifically designed on the ground, accompanied by a short grill that allows visitors to gather around it. The installation provides details indicating that at the latitude of the Parliament, the pendulum takes precisely 49 hours, 59 minutes, and 18 seconds to complete a full rotation.

Making and installation

The project of creating this entire pendulum was completed within a span of 10 to 12 months, and it was entirely made in India, as mentioned by Project Incharge Tapas Moharana in The Indian Express report. The pendulum was crafted from gunmetal and equipped with an electromagnetic coil to ensure smooth and uninterrupted movement.

Moharana said, “The suspension system is mounted on the ceiling, and there is a continuous power supply to eliminate any hindrances to the pendulum's motion. The first such pendulum was installed in Pune, and we made certain modifications for this installation.”

It was challenging to install the Foucault’s Pendulum at such a height while ensuring its stability, the project incharge futher said. However, these were addressed. Last year, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) sought the expertise of Moharana, who serves as NCSM's Curator-D, and his team to facilitate the installation of Foucault's Pendulum.

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