3A70.10 - Wilberforce Pendulum

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Wilberforce Pendulum
Modes of a Pendulum
Area of Study:
Wilberforce Pendulums and Laser if Desired.

Usually the laser is not required for most demonstrations as most classes it is used in are small enough to see the different modes.  If the laser is used it should be pointed at the mirrors that are attached to the pendulum so that the modes may be seen by the oscillations of laser reflected light.

  • Lutz Frank Kasper, "New Options for the Old Wilberforce Pendulum", TPT, Vol. 61, #7, Oct. 2023, p. 628.
  • Charles A. Sawicki, "Cheap and Easy Coupled-Oscillations Demonstration", TPT, Vol. 36, # 7, Oct. 1998, p. 417. 
  • Frank G. Karios and Karl C. Mamola, 'Wilberforce Pendulum, Demonstration Size", TPT, Vol. 31, #5, May 1993, p. 314. 
  • Paul Chagnon and Joe Pizzo, "Animated Displays: Coupled Mechanical Oscillators", TPT, Vol. 30, #5, May 1992, p. 275.
  • Robert J. Whitaker, "L.R. Wilberforce and the Wilberforce Pendulum", TPT, Vol. 26, #1, Jan. 1988, p. 37.
  • Thomas B. Greenslade Jr., "Sommerfelds Spring (Photo)", AJP, Vol. 79, #9, Sep. 2011, p. 908.
  • Thomas Gallot, Daniel Gau, Rodrigo Garcia-Tejera, "Coupled Oscillations of the Wilberforce Pendulum Unveiled by Smartphones", AJP, Vol. 91, #11, Nov. 2023, p. 873.  
  • Michael J. Moloney, "Coupled Oscillations in Suspended Magnets", AJP, Vol. 76, # 2, Feb. 2008, p. 125.
  • Richard E. Berg and Todd S. Marshall, "Wilberforce Pendulum Oscillations and Normal Modes", AJP, Vol. 59, #1, Jan. 1991, p. 32.
  • Ulrich Köpf, "Wilberforce's Pendulum Revisited", AJP, 58, #9, Sept. 1990, p. 833. 
  • P. Mohazzabi and J. P. McCrickard, "On the Spring Constant of a Close‐Coiled Helical Spring", AJP, Vol. 57, #7, July 1989, p. 639.
  • Jearl Walker, "The Amateur Scientist: Strange Things Happen When Two Pendulums Interact Through a Variety of Interconnections", Scientific American, Vol. 253, #4, Oct. 1985, p. 176.
  • "M-964. Wilberforce Pendulum-Door Spring", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • G. D. Freier and F. J. Anderson, "Mx-11", A Demonstration Handbook for Physics.
  • Keith Clay, "A Smart Wilberforce Pendulum", The Caliper Fall 2017, Vernier Software & Technology, p. 3.
  • Richard Manliffe Sutton, "S-18", Demonstration Experiments in Physics.
  • Julien Clinton Sprott, "1.19. Wilberforce Pendulum", Physics Demonstrations, ISBN 0-299-21580-6, p. 54.
  • Jearl Walker, "1.150. Wilberforce Pendulum", The Flying Circus of Physics Ed. 2, p. 71.
  • L. R. Wilberforce, "XLIV. On the Vibrations of a Loaded Spiral Spring", Philosophical Magazine Series 5, Vol. 38, 1894, p. 386.
  • Robert Ehrlich, "G.1. Wilberforce Pendulum", Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations, p. 89 - 90.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.