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Synchronized Swinging

Newton's swing-set
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A new apparatus for the Cirque du Soleil or similar circus troupe. A swing-set that is challenging to ride, astonishing to behold, and demonstrates Newton's third law of motion.

Newton's swing set is basically a scaled up version of "Newton's cradle", the popular desktop toy. (see link below). Imagine the original Newton's Cradle, scaled up so that it is large enough to fill a room, with each of the metal balls scaled up to the size of a beach ball, so it is large enough to sit on. The strings are scaled up into thick ropes that are easy to grab.

The five balls are used as swings. The swing rider perches on the ball, keeping his feet wide apart to make room for the swing in front of him. Because the balls are so close to each other, the riders almost touch each other as they swing, each facing the next one's back. The performers on their swings look like a bobsled team, nestled in each others legs.

If the girls on the swings look exactly the same, that's because they are. In order to have the performers perfectly matched in terms of mass, center of gravity, and wind resistance, we hired quintuplets.

For the first trick, the riders all push off at once, and swing in perfect alignment. The slightest timing error could cause a collision. But when done right, it is as lovely as a flock of birds taking off.

To picture the second trick, refer to the link "Newton's cradle in motion." Choose the number "1" from the list. The rightmost rider pushes off while the other four hang at rest. She swings up to the right as far as she can (with the help of a confederate), then swings back down until she hits the second ball with a solid elastic THWACK. Almost instantly, like magic, the LEFTMOST rider rises up in the air, in a mirror image of the rightmost rider's flight. She also comes back down with a thwack, starting the cycle all over again. The two riders continue to alternate and mirror each other's movements until friction burns up their momentum.

For the final trick, The two leftmost riders push off, immediately followed by the two rightmost riders, unleashing a clicking clacking domino effect of thwacks where the riders continue to swing in precise, ever changing patterns that seem like the work of a winding-down syncopated clock.

robinism, Jan 09 2005

Newton's cradle, popular desk toy http://www.toysanda...&Category_Code=BTGG
[robinism, Jan 09 2005, last modified Jan 15 2005]

Newton's cradle in motion http://webphysics.p...ry/8-2a/pendel5.htm
[robinism, Jan 09 2005, last modified Jan 15 2005]


       I like the trick with one or more balls hidden on the other side of the tent wall. A rider hits the wall - nothing happens - then rider and ball go flying away from the wall.
FarmerJohn, Jan 09 2005

       [FarmerJohn], Nice variation. Both "magical" and humorous. It could be part of clown/magician act.
robinism, Jan 09 2005

       We do that, just about a half hour before the club closes.
mensmaximus, Jan 09 2005


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