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I have been working with variations of the R.O.M.P (randomly oscillating
magnetic pendulum) both in the lab and in a 5 floor staicase here at Steneby.
Click the picture above for video. I believe the one I have built here is the
largest in the world by far. I am continuing my experiments with it, so feel free to visit it in Nybygget, Dals Långed.
The ROMP was named and "discovered" in the nineties. Mine has the aspect of a Foucault's Pendulum, but keeps a very different sort of time. This contrast is key to emphasizing my intent with the work. Besides having a quixotic motion I find pleasing, the
hidden magnets suggest a timekeeper that follows rules beyond our ken. I am referencing relativity and also the intrigue, fun, and myth of randomness. Indeed, computer models of ROMPs are being used as chaos models and random number generators. For the geeks, see the link for the
. The results of many computing hours are quite beautiful:
Initially, I created some models to trace these patterns in sand
or iron filings, but finally settled on water and light to carry these patterns in a temporary (temporal) way onto the walls of the stairwell. Waves seemed to be a natural way
to express the influence of magnetics. The iron filing experiments also suggested an aquatic aspect to the action of the forces.
The motion is governed by a combination of physical attributes and opposing or reinforcing forces. Arm length and bob weight are always arbiters of pendulum dynamics (for a great basic tutorial click
,) while the forces I am balancing are gravity and magnetic, minus friction, my sworn enemy. In addition, the flexing of the pendulum arm has produced some unexpected results, acting as a spring/battery that stores and expresses waves as the pendulum swings. Though the material I used, lightweight stainless and aluminium, seemed completely rigid in 2 meter lengths, over the full 14+ meter span it flexed like a wet noodle. I am looking into other material options for the arm including carbon fiber to minimize and control this motion.
The bob is lightweight, with the mass focused on an adjustable iron core that also helps shield the vertical pole of the bob magnet. The bob magnet is high streength neodymium, placed asymmetrically to avoid stasis and create spin. I am experimenting with different patterns and strengths of base magnets to refine the patterns of motion I create.
The bearing at the top is a bane to any pendulum craftsman, and I have work to do. At the moment, my multiple swivel bearings combined with ultra-strong firewire do the trick, but I am looking into other options including magnetic suspension, punching-bag bearings, or the straight wire through a fluted gate used by many Foucault pendulums. However, I have found that the spin created by this work is part of its charm, so experiments and material searches are ongoing.
Though originally planned as part of an exhibition for a three-week run, I have permission to continue working with this piece for another month. The public seems to like it, and the interactive space it creates in the stairwell suggests success.
Mark II -
After some work creating an "infinity box", I have replaced the pool of water with a pool of light. I am working on a non-magnetic bearing to carry the magnetic waves into the base with growing success.
I am working on suppliers, and perhaps sponsors to supply more sophisticated lighting and one-way mirrors to maximize the effect.
Now I have not only rendered the object for design and alalysis, I have a system to "read" its motion into my computer so that I can further study and display its movements. This can also be the key to some advanced interaction through motion sensors, light, or sound, but we shall see.
copyright Dec 2011
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