Pendulum clock

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A pendulum clock is a clock that uses a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its timekeeping element. The advantage of a pendulum for timekeeping is that it is a resonant device; it swings back and forth in a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates. From its invention in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens until the 1930s, the pendulum clock was the world's most precise timekeeper, accounting for its widespread use.[1] [2] Pendulum clocks must be stationary to operate; any motion or accelerations will affect the motion of the pendulum, causing inaccuracies, so other mechanisms must be used in portable timepieces. They are now kept mostly for their decorative and antique value.

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History

The pendulum clock was invented in 1656 by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, and patented the following year. Huygens contracted the construction of his clock designs to clockmaker Salomon Coster, who actually built the clock. Huygens was inspired by investigations of pendulums by Galileo Galilei beginning around 1602. Galileo discovered the key property that makes pendulums useful timekeepers: isochronism, which means that the period of swing of a pendulum is approximately the same for different sized swings.[3][4] Galileo had the idea for a pendulum clock in 1637, partly constructed by his son in 1649, but neither lived to finish it.[5] The introduction of the pendulum, the first harmonic oscillator used in timekeeping, increased the accuracy of clocks enormously, from about 15 minutes per day to 15 seconds per day[6] leading to their rapid spread as existing 'verge and foliot' clocks were retrofitted with pendulums.