Pendulums Draw Novel Designs (May, 1936)

Pendulums Draw Novel Designs
INTRICATE geometrical designs, many of striking beauty, are produced by a curious instrument constructed by Milan Fiske, junior student at Beloit College, Beloit, Wis., and known as a precision harmonograph. The unusual device, which its youthful builder believes may be the only one of its kind in the country operating on similar principles, aids in the mathematical study of compound harmonic motions. A platform, mounted on a universal joint, is rocked by a pendulum while a fountain pen at the end of a three-foot arm, also supported upon a universal joint, is given an independent motion by a second pendulum. This traces a design, called a harmonogram, upon a sheet of paper attached to the rocking platform. By swinging the pendulums in various ways, Fiske estimates, as many as 10.000,000 different patterns of curves may be produced.

  1. Blurgle says: July 5, 20073:39 am

    It’s the origin of the spirograph!!

  2. ROBERT FISKE says: January 4, 20081:42 pm

    Thank you for placing this on the web. My father, Milan Fiske, went on in his life to hold more than 50 patents. He received his P.hd. from Univ of Wisconsin
    in Mathematics and spent his career at GE as a physicist specializing in low tempertature physics.

    I still have some of the products of this gizmo.

    thanks again for the story…. Robert Fiske

  3. Ken Rohling says: June 30, 201111:50 am

    I knew your father very well, and considered him a good friend. He was a mentor for my wood turning. He is missed…

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