30 JUL 2013 by ideonexus

 Odd Sympathy

Laid up in bed during a brief illness and idly watching two clocks mounted in one case, Huygens noticed something strange: No matter how the pendulums started out, eventually they always ended up swinging in exactly opposite directions. Huygens wondered whether this odd sympathy might solve the longitude problem. Perhaps, he thought, two such clocks could regulate each other. If one got dirty, for instance, and started running slow, the influence of the other clock would lessen this effect. I...
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Mathematician Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock found that two clocks on the same wall will invariably come into counter-synchronization with one another. This is because of thermodynamics and their connection via the support beam in the wall.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 How Radiometric Dating Works

Briefly, a radioactive isotope is a kind of atom which decays into a different kind of atom: for example. one called uranium-238 turns into one called lead-206. Because we know how long this takes to happen, we can think of the isotope as a radioactive clock. Radioactive clocks are rather like the water clocks and candle clocks that people used in the days before pendulum clocks were invented. A tank of water with a hole in the bottom will drain at a measurable rate. If the tank was filled at...
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A great summary of how we date fossils using Uranium and Carbon atoms and their decay rates.