Monday, November 26, 2007

Out of Pattern

When I was in college a classmate was doing an experiment to determine "g", the force of gravity. The experiment attached one end of a yardstick to a tiny electric motor, with the yardstick able to swing like a pendulum from the pivot point where it is attached to the motor. (click to enlarge)

I don't remember the details, but by knowing factors like friction, the mass of the yardstick, height above sea level, the internal resistance of the motor, etc - "g" could be determined by looking at the electrical current that was generated by the motor (recorded by a computer). The resulting signal from the motor behaved as a damped oscillator, producing a damped sin-wave type signal like that shown (sorry for the poor drawing) when the ruler was raised and let fall.

A very accurate value for "g" was determined (very close to expected value for "g"), and for the most part the recorded observations fit very well with the expected damped oscillation curve. What was very interesting to me though, was that at the very beginning of the observations the curve didn't fit the expectation very well at all.

When I asked the professor why the curve fit so well except at the beginning he said something like "It takes it a little while for it to figure out what it's supposed to do."

I mention this example because I find the out-of-pattern observations like in this experiment as one of the more interesting parts of the experiment. The experiment mostly performed as expected, except the odd data when it yardstick was first released.

I think that's why I'm intrigued by alot of the things that don't make sense - that are a tad out of pattern - and probably why I get interested in some of the more "fringey" things I occasionally post about here, including UFO accounts and videos, near death experiences, and the odd behavior of the stock market. There's enough there to make me think there's something to some of these, even if it's something I can't know for sure. Makes for a more interesting world in any event.

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