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.
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