Watch 100 Randomly Ticking Metronomes Achieve Synchronicity

in Math, Physics, Science | January 13th, 2017

It’s always satisfying to impose order on chaos, especially if it doesn’t involve bellowing at a roomful of jacked up teenagers.

Witness the experiment above.

Members of Ikeguchi Laboratory, a Japanese organization dedicated to the analysis and prediction of nonlinear phenomena, placed 100 randomly ticking metronomes on a hanging platform, curious as to how long it would take them to synchronize.



(SPOILER ALERT! They start synching up around the 1 minute, 20 second mark.)

How? Why? Is this some mystical, musical variant of menstrual synchrony?

Nope. Physics is doing the heavy lifting here.

The key is that the platform holding the metronomes is not fixed. It affects their movement by moving in response to theirs.

To put it another way, KE = 0.5 • m • v2. Which is to say Kinetic Energy = 0.5 • mass of object • (speed of object)2.

If you’re looking for another scientific explanation, here’s how Gizmodo puts it: “the metronomes are transferring energy to the platform they’re on, which then transfers that energy back to the metronomes—until they all sync up and start hitting the beat in one glorious wavelength.”

By the two and a half minute mark, some viewers will be raring to delve into further study of energy transference.

Others, their brains imploding, may elect to downshift into a purely auditory experience.

Close your eyes and listen as the last hold outs fall into rhythmic step with the rest of the herd. A pleasantly harmonious sound, not unlike that moment when a roomful of jacked up teens simmers down, achieving the sort of blissful hive mind that’s a balm to teacher’s frazzled soul.

Craving more?  Ikeguchi Laboratory also filmed their metronomes in triangular, circular and X-shaped formations, available for your viewing pleasure on the lab’s YouTube channel.

via The Kid Should See This

Related Content:

Watch What Happens When 100 Metronomes Perform György Ligeti’s Controversial Poème Symphonique

The Remarkable Physics of Ants: Watch Them Turn into Fluids and Solids at Will

The Mysterious Physics Behind How Bikes Ride by Themselves

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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Comments (6)

  1. SrPilha says . . .
    January 13, 2017 / 1:07 am

    That’s an interesting variation on Ligeti’s “Poème Symphonique” :)

  2. Phil Barker says . . .
    January 14, 2017 / 2:32 am

    Very important effect when designing foot bridges, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAXVa__XWZ8

  3. Rob says . . .
    January 14, 2017 / 4:16 am

    Sorry they ar not running exactly synchrone. For example the secend orange on the right is running faster than the first orange on the right. So I think our brains just tell us what we would like to hear. The same as wheels on a car running backwards while the car is moving forwards.
    Look close concentrate on one and see one or two next to it.

  4. Blootza says . . .
    January 14, 2017 / 11:14 am

    Even though the metronomes are synchronizing, a better choice of words for what they are doing would be “entrainment”. Synchronicity is something else entirely different. Iamnot sure one can “achieve synchronicity”. Cool vid though…

  5. Alfredo Louro says . . .
    January 14, 2017 / 11:56 am

    Actually if you listen to the audio, they start to sync almost right away.

  6. Marilyn Wills says . . .
    January 15, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Definitely agree – KE = 05. m . v2 is how I would define it …

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