The Double Pendulum 

Animated gif (109kB) showing solution of the double pendulum equations for particular initial conditions.

The double pendulum is an example of a simple dynamical system that
exhibits
complex behaviour, including chaos. It consists of two point masses at the
end of light rods. Each mass plus rod is a regular simple pendulum, and the
two pendula are joined together and the system is free to oscillate in a
plane.
This
page has an excellent, detailed description of the dynamical
description
of the double pendulum, including derivation of the equations of motion
in the
Lagrangian formalism. For the purposes of numerical solution the
equations of motion may be written in the standard form The left panel shows two animated gifs illustrating solution of these equations for one kilogram pendulum masses and one metre pendulum lengths, for the indicated times in seconds (the two gifs may take some time to load  they are 109kB and 239kB respectively). The second gif illustrates sensitivity to initial conditions: the pendulum is started from two initial configurations differing by 0.001 degrees in the angle of the second mass. The C code used to solve the equations is here. Fourth order RungeKutta is used to integrate the ODEs. It should be noted that this approach does not give accurate solutions for long times for equations such as these  symplectic integrators should be used. (Or so my Applied Mathematician friends tell me!)
The School of Physics
at the University of Sydney has a
compound square
double pendulum.


Page maintained by m.wheatland (at) physics.usyd.edu.au  Page last updated Friday, 01Aug2008 11:15:27 EST 