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describe the dial or “motion-work.” The minute hand fits on to a squared end of a brass socket, which is fixed to the wheel M, and fits close, but not tight, on the prolonged arbor of the centre wheel. Behind this wheel is a bent spring which is (or ought to be) set on the same arbor with a square hole (not a round one as it sometimes is) in the middle, so that it must turn with the arbor; the wheel is pressed up against this spring, and kept there, by a cap and a small pin through the end of the arbor. The consequence is, that there is friction enough between the spring and the wheel to carry the hand round, but not enough to resist a moderate push with the finger for the purpose of altering the time indicated. This wheel M, which is sometimes called the minute-wheel, but is better called the hour-wheel as it turns in an hour, drives another wheel N, of the same number of teeth, which has a pinion attached to it; and that pinion drives the twelve-hour wheel H, which is also attached to a large socket or pipe carrying the hour hand, and riding on the former socket, or rather (in order to relieve the centre arbor of that extra weight) on an intermediate socket fixed to the bridge L, which is screwed to the front plate over the hour-wheel M. The weight W, which drives the train and gives the impulse to the pendulum through the escapement, is generally hung by a catgut line passing through a pulley attached to the weight, the other end of the cord being tied to some convenient place in the clock frame or seat-board, to which it is fixed by screws through the lower pillars.

EB1911 - Clock - Fig. 4.jpg

Fig. 4.

Pendulum.—Suppose that we have a body P (fig. 4) at rest, and that it is material, that is to say, has “mass.” And for simplicity let us consider it a ball of some heavy matter. Let it be free to move horizontally, but attached to a fixed point A by means of a spring. As it can only move horizontally and not fall, the earth’s gravity will be unable to impart any motion to it. Now it is a law first discovered by Robert Hooke (1635–1703) that if any elastic spring be pulled by a force, then, within its elastic limits, the amount by which it will be extended is proportional to the force. Hence then, if a body is pulled out against a spring, the restitutional force is proportional to the displacement. If the body be released it will tend to move back to its initial position with an acceleration proportioned to its mass and to its distance from rest. A body thus circumstanced moves with harmonic motion, vibrating like a stretched piano string, and the peculiarity of its motion is that it is isochronous. That is to say, the time of returning to its initial position is the same, whether it makes a large movement at a high velocity under a strong restitutional force, or a small movement at a lower velocity under a smaller restitutional force (see Mechanics). In consequence of this fact the balance wheel of a watch is isochronous or nearly so, notwithstanding variations in the amplitude of its vibrations. It is like a piano string which sounds the same note, although the sound dies away as the amplitude of its vibrations diminishes.

EB1911 - Clock - Fig. 5.jpg

Fig. 5.

A pendulum is isochronous for similar reasons. If the bob be drawn aside from D to C (fig. 5), then the restitutional force tending to bring it back to rest is approximately the force which gravitation would exert along the tangent CA, i.e.

g cos ACW = g BC = g displacement BC .
OC length of pendulum

Since g is constant, and the length of the pendulum does not vary, it follows that when a pendulum is drawn aside through a small arc the force tending to bring it back to rest is proportional to the displacement (approximately). Thus the pendulum bob under the influence of gravity, if the arc of swing is small, acts as though instead of being acted on by gravity it was acted on by a spring tending to drag it towards D, and therefore is isochronous. The qualification “If the arc of swing is small” is introduced because, as was discovered by Christiaan Huygens, the arc of vibration of a truly isochronous pendulum should not be a circle with centre O, but a cycloid DM, generated by the rolling of a circle with diameter DQ = ½OD, upon a straight line QM. However, for a short distance near the bottom, the circle so nearly coincides with the cycloid that a pendulum swinging in the usual circular path is, for small arcs, isochronous for practical purposes.

EB1911 - Clock - Fig. 6.jpg

Fig. 6.

The formula representing the time of oscillation of a pendulum, in a circular arc, is thus found:—Let OB (fig. 6) be the pendulum, B be the position from which the bob is let go, and P be its position at some period during its swing. Put FC = h, and MC = x, and OB = l. Now when a body is allowed to move under the force of gravity in any path from a height h, the velocity it attains is the same as a body would attain falling freely vertically through the distance h. Whence if v be the velocity of the bob at P, v = √2gFM = √2g(hx). Let Pp = ds, and the vertical distance of p below P = dx, then Pp = velocity at P × dt; that is, dt = ds/v. Also

ds = 1 = 1 ,
dx MP x(2lx)


dt = ds = ldx . 1 = 1 l . dx . 1 .
v x(2lx) 2g(hx) 2 g x(px) 1 − (x/2l)

Expanding the second part we have

dt = 1 l . dx . ( 1 + x + ... ) .
2 g x(hx) 4l

If this is integrated between the limits of 0 and h, we have

t = π l . ( 1 + h + ... ) ,
g 8l

where t is the time of swing from B to A. The terms after the second may be neglected. The first term, πl/g, is the time of swing in a cycloid. The second part represents the addition necessary if the swing is circular and not cycloidal, and therefore expresses the “circular error.” Now h = BC²/l = 2π²θ²l/360², where θ is half the angle of swing expressed in degrees; hence h/8l = θ/52520, and the formula becomes

t = π l ( 1 + θ² ) .
g 52520

Hence the ratio of the time of swing of an ordinary pendulum of any length, with a semiarc of swing = θ degrees is to the time of swing of a corresponding cycloidal pendulum as 1 + θ²/52520 : 1. Also the difference of time of swing caused by a small increase θ′ in the semiarc of swing = 2θθ′ / 52520 second per second, or 3.3θθ′ seconds per day. Hence in the case of a seconds pendulum whose semiarc of swing is 2° an increase of .1° in this semiarc of 2° would cause the clock to lose 3.3 × 2 × 0.1 = .66 second a day.

Huygens proposed to apply his discovery to clocks, and since the evolute of a cycloid is an equal cycloid, he suggested the use of a flexible pendulum swinging between cycloidal cheeks. But this was only an example of theory pushed too far, because the friction on the cycloidal cheeks involves more error than they correct, and other disturbances of a higher degree of importance are left uncorrected. In fact the application of pendulums to clocks, though governed in the abstract by theory, has to be modified by experiment.

Neglecting the circular error, if L be the length of a pendulum and g the acceleration of gravity at the place where the pendulum is, then T, the time of a single vibration = π√(L/g). From this formula it follows that the times of vibration of pendulums are directly proportional to the square root of their lengths, and inversely proportional to the square root of the acceleration of gravity at the place where the pendulum is swinging. The value of g for London is 32.2 ft. per second per second, whence it results that the length of a pendulum for London to beat seconds of mean solar time = 39.14 in. nearly, the length of an astronomical pendulum to beat seconds of sidereal time being 38.87 in.

This length is calculated on the supposition that the arc of swing is cycloidal and that the whole mass of the pendulum is concentrated at a point whose distance, called the radius of oscillation, from the point of suspension of the pendulum is 39.14 in. From this it might be imagined that if a sphere, say of iron, were suspended from a light rod, so that its centre were 39.14 in. below its point of support, it would vibrate once per second. This, however, is not the case. For as the pendulum swings, the ball also tends to turn in space to and fro round a horizontal axis perpendicular to the direction of its motion. Hence the force stored up in the pendulum is expended, not only in making it swing, but also in causing the ball to oscillate to and fro through a small angle about a horizontal axis. We have therefore to consider not merely the vibrations of the rod, but the oscillations of the bob. The moment of the momentum of the system round the point of suspension, called its moment of inertia, is composed of the sum of the mass of each particle multiplied into the square of its distance from the axis of rotation. Hence the moment