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Gymnasium Verl

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Foucault Pendulum



In our school we have a special rarity, which distinguishes our school from others: a Foucault pendulum which spans through the two storeys of our school building. It is located in the foyer with a specially designed area beneath the swinging sphere. Furthermore there are flashing diodes in the ground, which correspond to the movement of the pendulum, increasing the eye-catching effect of this unique feature of our school.


In the first half of the 17th century Kepler recognizes the laws of planetary movement: the heliocentric system (which means that the sun is the center of our known universe) by Copernicus has been established, but a final proof for the rotation of our planet is still missing. In the second half of the 17th century, Isaac Newton introduces the guiding mathematic principles for physics in the next 200 years, with his book "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica".

When Poisson publishes his work in 1837, he comes very close to proving the rotation of our earth. His work was about the deflection of projectiles on the rotating earth. Coriolis, who did his PhD under Poisson, analized the movement of frames with Newtons laws of physics, which Poisson did not.

The afterworld honored his work by using his name for the 'coriolis force'.

Finally, in 1851, Foucault uses Coriolis results to prove the earthrotation.

About 16 years later Foucault had the sudden inspiration to modify Coriolis’ cognitions in such a way that the earth’s rotation can be proven. He demonstrates his 67m long and 28kg heavy pendulum in the Parisian Pantheon in 1851 and obtains manifest honours for his experiment, even including the acceptance by the catholic church.

During the day Foucaults Pendulum seems to change its direction, but in fact it still has the same orientation and the Earth has moved.


Currently the Foucault Pendulum is under construction, because of the extension of the school building. With the completion of the site the Foucault Pendulum will be rebuilt- this is going to be in year 2014.





This is how the Foucault Pendulum looks right now (22nd Feb 2016).