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I followed the link which led to a link, which said this;
Space Science News home
Decrypting the Eclipse
A Solar Eclipse, Global Measurements
and a Mystery
"During the total eclipses of the sun on June 30, 1954, and October 22, 195=
9, quite analogous deviations of the plane of oscillation of the paraconical=
pendulum were observed..." - Maurice Allais, 1988 Nobel autobiographical le=
I'm thinking; how odd, 4 months before I was born [October 11, 1954] and 11=
days after my 5th birthday [October 22, 1959]
these things occured. Wonder how that effects me???
Also, the guy with the Nobleis named Maurice......... it gets weirder
August 6, 1999: The natural phenomenon of a solar eclipse has historically =
brought kings to assemble armies and, in the modern era, brought camera-toti=
ng astronomers to remote locations around the world. On August 11, a solar e=
clipse will bring scientists together in an effort to solve a 45-year myster=
Right: When the Moon eclipses the Sun, the solar corona becomes visible. Th=
e corona is faint compared to the Sun, so it can only be seen when the Sun i=
s blocked from view. Jean Bernard Leon Foucault, with the physicist Armand F=
izeau, took the first clear photograph of the Sun in 1845.
The mystery lies in the question: Does a solar eclipse somehow affect a Fou=
cault pendulum? In 1954, Maurice Allais reported that a Foucault pendulum ex=
hibited peculiar movements at the time of a solar eclipse. If true, his find=
ing raises new questions about the nature of such phenomena.
For the upcoming eclipse, the NASA/Marshall Space Sciences Lab is coordinat=
ing an internet and video collaboration between observatories and universiti=
es to test the Allais effect. Participants on 4 continents (Central Europe, =
North America, Middle Asia, and Australasia), are from at least 7 countries =
(US, Austria, Germany, Italy, Australia, 4 sites in the United Arab Emirates=
, and England) and 11 cities (Huntsville, AL, Indianapolis, Louisville, Denv=
er, Boulder, Richmond, Vienna, Greifswald, Trento, Abu Dabi, and Sydney).
Educators! Please visit
for lesson plans and activities related to the August 11, 1999 total solar =
eclipse.The inventor of the gyroscope, Jean Bernard Leon Foucault, demonstra=
ted during the 1851 World's Fair that a pendulum could track the rotation of=
the Earth. A scientific tour de force, Foucault's demonstration forever att=
ached his name both to the effect itself (the Foucault effect) and to the un=
iversal joint pendulum that freely swings and rotates at the same time (the =
Left: Time-elapsed photo of a Foucault pendulum at the Smithsonian Museum. =
As the Earth rotates under the pendulum, the bob strikes down red pegs.
A basic Foucault pendulum is simply a weight on a wire. Practically any poc=
ket watch has the potential to act as a pendulum, exhibiting up to a 10 to 1=
5 degree rotation per hour around its hinge point. To an observer in a windo=
wless room, the rotation that accompanies the swing is a kind of optical ill=
usion: the pendulum is not turning, instead the Earth is actually rotating u=
nder the pendulum. Foucault's dramatic proof at the World's Fair is consider=
ed to be the first non-astronomical proof of the Earth's rotation.
With rotating hinges raised to heights in excess of 90 feet, Foucault pendu=
lums are now massive display pieces in the lobbies of more than 60 museums a=
nd entrance halls around the world, including the United Nations Building in=
New York and at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.
Remarkably, little more than two long-term scientific records for Foucault =
pendulums have been published. Both experiments were conducted by eventual N=
obel Prize winners: Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes, who won the 1913 Nobel prize in =
Physics for his investigations on the properties of matter at low temperatur=
es (which led to the production of liquid helium), and Maurice Allais, who w=
on the 1988 Nobel prize in Economics for his contributions to the theory of =
markets and efficient utilization of resources.
An Abrupt Excursion in the Plane: What Allais Published
In a marathon experiment, Maurice Allais released a Foucault pendulum every=
14 minutes - for 30 days and nights -without missing a data point. He recor=
ded the direction of rotation (in degrees) at his Paris laboratory. This ene=
rgetic show of human endurance happened to overlap with the 1954 solar eclip=
se. During the eclipse, the pendulum took an unexpected turn, changing its a=
ngle of rotation by 13.5 degrees.
Left: Maurice Allais (1911 - ) won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1988. He=
stated, "All my researches in theoretical and applied physics which, at fir=
st sight, appear to be remote from my main activity as an economist, have, i=
n reality, enriched me with valuable experience."
Both before and after the eclipse, the pendulum experienced normal rotation=
(Foucault effect of 0.19 degrees/minute). This 13.5-degree excursion in the=
angular plane persisted throughout the length of the eclipse, a total of 2.=
5 hours of observations. Allais got similar results when he later repeated t=
he experiment during a solar eclipse in 1959.
Right: Foucault clock animation - each tick shown is one hour worth of obse=
rved rotation. Depending on geographic position, the rotation of the Earth o=
n a Foucault clock can be measured as different rotation rates: infinite per=
iod at the equator; approximately 24 hours at the poles; clockwise in the So=
uthern Hemisphere; counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. The Allais =
effect observed over 2 and an half hours during the shadow of an extended so=
lar eclipse's onset and departure equals nearly the magnitude of the Foucaul=
t effect itself (or about one tick shown).
Allais' pendulum experiments earned him the 1959 Galabert Prize of the Fren=
ch Astronautical Society, and in 1959 he was made a laureate of the United S=
tates Gravity Research Foundation.
A handful of scientists have since tested Allais' findings, and the results=
have polarized the publication record:
An Overview of Publications About Eclipse Phenomena
France, June 1954;
YES: Allais' original observations were repeated 3 times in 1954 and 1959 i=
n France. In two locations: "two identical installations at St. Germain and =
Bougival, in an underground gallery (57 m deep) showing that the previously =
observed anomalies are still present." Allais, 1959.
NO: Given a null report in 1954 in Shetland, Scotland using static gravity =
meters, and in 1965 in Trieste, Italy.
YES: The Allais effect was repeated in 1961 in Romania. "A number of observ=
ations were made of the behavior of a Foucault pendulum during the eclipse o=
f the Sun of February 15, 1961. A similar result concerning a shift of the o=
scillation plane on June 30, 1954 was seen by Prof. Maurice Allais at St. Ge=
rmain-Laye. These experiments should be repeated during other total eclipses=
of the sun." G.T. Jeverdan, et al, 1961 (A footnote states that after recor=
ding their deviations in the Foucault pendulum, the researchers discovered t=
he Allais observations. In other words, they weren't looking for it.)
YES: Allais effect repeated using a torsion pendulum. In the observations a=
t Harvard, a 0.0372% increase in the period (29.570 second baseline) began w=
ith the eclipse onset, peaked just after the eclipse maximum (29.581 second =
max.) and then decreased to an offset value. The researchers conclude that "=
this agrees qualitatively with the work of Allais with a paraconical (Foucau=
lt) pendulum. The change of azimuth increased substantially in the first hal=
f of the eclipse of June 30, 1954." These effects manifest as an "apparent w=
avelike structure observed over the course of many years at our Harvard labo=
ratory. It cannot be predicted on the basis of classical gravitational theor=
y nor has it been observed in the quasistationary experiments underlying thi=
s theory (e.g. spring-operated gravimeters, seismographs, and interferometer=
devices)." Saxl and Allen, Phys. Rev. D3, 1971.
NO: Not observed in 1990 Finland eclipse using a torsion pendulum. "In July=
1990 there was a total solar eclipse in Helsinki, Finland. The results of S=
axl and Allen, made at Harvard University during the total solar eclipse in =
March 1970, were tested using equipment which was quite similar to that used=
in Harvard. Four measurements, each lasting nine hours, were performed duri=
ng the night preceding the eclipse, during the eclipse and the night after t=
he eclipse and two weeks after the eclipse. In the limits of errors no effec=
ts were observed." Ullakko, et al, 1991.
Mexico City, 1991
MAYBE: The team that conducted the Finland 1990 study detected an indefinit=
e signal one year later in Mexico City. "In the y-position of the pendulum t=
here are two distinct shifts which seem to appear at the beginning and the e=
nd of the eclipse... Our experiment cannot determine whether these shifts ar=
e produced by some eclipse-coordinated phenomena, e.g. some sort of tidal wa=
ves on the shell of the Earth which has altered the position of the pendulum=
YES: A gravimeter detected slight changes during a solar eclipse. "[A one h=
our feature of the gravimeter record] of 10-12 microGal (10-8cm/s2)...can ne=
ither be classified under short period variations due to tidal effect or dri=
ft of the gravimeter nor under high frequency noise which have special patte=
rns. Therefore, this variation is highly significant as it occurs with the o=
nset of an eclipse...to understand its actual nature and mechanism, more pla=
nned experiments of this kind should be carried out during solar eclipses th=
roughout the world whenever such opportunities are available." D.C. Mishra, =
M.B.S. Rao, National Geophysical Research Institute, Current Science, 72 (11=
) 1997 (783).
"The initial interpretation of the record points to three possibilities," s=
ays Dr. David Noever of NASA/Marshall, "A systematic error, a local effect, =
or the unexplored. To eliminate the first two possibilities, we and several =
other observers will use different kinds of measuring instruments in a distr=
ibuted global network of observing stations."
Worldwide Effort, August 11, 1999
Testing and then verifying the effects of a solar eclipse is a difficult en=
terprise. Because an eclipse has a short duration, it is difficult to conduc=
t very many tests. Also, eclipse effects usually get attributed to some loca=
l effect like seismic or temperature changes because the experiments are not=
conducted in several different places at once. Therefore, in order to deter=
mine whether or not the effects of any single eclipse are one-time, localize=
d events, many observing stations are needed to test eclipse peculiarities.
During the next solar eclipse, Noever's team and volunteer scientists at se=
veral museums will simultaneously observe Foucault pendulums. Noever and oth=
er scientists will also use a gravimeter - a super-sensitive device that rep=
orts very small changes in the gravitational force acting on a mechanical sp=
After the eclipse, Noever's team will compare the results of all the tests,=
including observations from areas in Europe that lie in the path of the ecl=
Left: Cutaway view of gravimeter, with magnetic, thermal and pressure shiel=
ding. The instrument reports very small changes in the gravitational force a=
cting on a mechanical spring-mass. Gravitational changes are expressed as th=
e electrical force (measured as voltage) required to maintain the spring-mas=
s system at a predetermined position (the null point). The modified LaCoste-=
Romberg gravimeter (Edcon, Inc. Denver, CO) measures relative gravity until =
calibrated against a reference. The instrument is routinely calibrated along=
the 10-station Rocky Mountain Calibration range established by NOAA, Edcon =
and the Colorado School of Mines. The calibration is validated by comparing =
the measure of absolute gravity in Huntsville Alabama with reference values =
from the USAF gravity disk.
Data collection begins on August 11. The times of the solar eclipse are 3am=
-9am in North America, and 9a.m.-3p.m. in Europe and Middle Asia. These time=
s can be adjusted for exact locations, for instance, in Boulder, CO, a data =
set for recording would be about 2:30a.m., continuing until 8:30a.m. That wo=
uld cover the approach of the shadow, the actual eclipse, and the retreat of=
the shadow. The total length of the eclipse from initial contact in the Atl=
antic to last contact in the Indian Ocean is about 3 ½ hours.
University Observatory, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany.=
Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria. =
The Institute is in contact with a monastery close to the centerline of the =
eclipse. This monastery has been conducting astronomical observations since =
1763, and has a "mathematical tower" equipped with a Foucault pendulum.
Vienna Museum of Technology, in collaboration with the University of Vienna=
, Experimental Physics Dept.
University of Trento, Italy, Dept. of Physics.
Science Museum of Virginia. The Science Museum's pendulum, at 95.8 ft (29.2=
meters), is one of the longest in North America.
University of Louisville, Kentucky, Dept. of Physics.
Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis.
University of Sydney, Australia, Dept. of Physics.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
Right: Drop tower at the NASA/Marshall Dynamic Test Stand. Originally used =
for vibration testing of the Apollo Saturn rocket and Shuttle, the tower has=
since been used to investigate fluid and materials research, preflight equi=
pment design, and flight experiment simulation. The Marshall Foucault pendul=
um will use 24.5 feet of the tower's 336 ft. drop tube interior. Gravimeter =
Micro-G Solutions, Boulder, Colorado. Micro-G solutions has a global networ=
k of absolute gravity meters (FG-5s).
Edcon, of Denver, CO, with an international cadre along the path of totalit=
y. Edcon is coordinating all of the four independent test sites in Abu Dabi =
University of Trieste, Italy
University of Bologna, Italy; superconducting gravity meter
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
SCINTREX/IDS Europe, Orleans, France
LaCoste & Romberg LLC, Austin, TX
Moxa Geodynamics Observatory, Jena, Germany with superconducting and spring=
gravimeter, seismograph and meteorology
Tribotech, Moscow with gravity torsion balance
Royal Observatory, Belgium
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
If the scientists do observe the Allais effect, the prevailing question wil=
l be "Why does it occur?" So far, explanations have included the anisotropy =
of space (the condition of having different properties in different directio=
ns), gravitational waves, and solar radiation.
Web LinksThe Foucault Pendulum -- an excellent tutorial discussion by Profe=
ssor B. Nickel, Physics Department, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. T=
his web site also reviews some peculiarities in pendulum motion detected by =
experiments at the University of Guelph.
Peering Through a Hole in the Sky - June 17, 1999.
The Millenium's Last Solar Eclipse - Sky & Telescope magazine.
Fred Espenak's Solar Eclipse Home Page - at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight C=
But before the cause of the Allais effect can be determined, scientists fir=
st need to settle the question about whether a pendulum really does act diff=
erently during a solar eclipse. By having a global network of scientists col=
laborating on a single eclipse, the answer to that question will perhaps fin=
ally be resolved.
Results of August 11 eclipse will have to be coordinated with lunar opposit=
ion (2 weeks later) before a first summary of eclipse data will be available=
. Realistically, scientists think it will take at least a decade before all =
opinions are settled.
In his Nobel Prize autobiographical speech, Allais stated, "My main idea at=
the start was that a link could be established between magnetism and gravit=
ation by observing the movements of a pendulum consisting of a glass ball os=
cillating in a magnetic field. Of all the observations made in 1952 and 1953=
I was not able to draw any definitive conclusion. Through certain experimen=
tal devices, I obtained positive effects, but with other devices I obtained =
no effect whatsoever....all these phenomena are quite inexplicable within th=
e framework of the currently accepted theories."
Sign up for our EXPRESS SCIENCE NEWS deliveryUpon learning of the upcoming =
effort to investigate the pendulum-eclipse mystery, Allais said he was glad =
and excited that scientists are revisiting his experiments. The German rocke=
t scientist Werner von Braun, one of the original rocket team members at NAS=
A's Marshall Space Flight Center, had encouraged Allais to translate one of =
his pendulum experiments from French into English. Von Braun, it seems, beli=
eved the experiment could explain anomalies in some space object trajectorie=
s. When the pendulums start swinging on August 11, the early connection betw=
een Allais and NASA/Marshall will have come full circle.
Tracking the Eclipse
Although much of Europe, Asia and Africa will witness the eclipse, only tho=
se who lie directly under the path will see a total eclipse. Other than part=
ial coverage at dawn in the Northeast corridor, North American sites appear =
in opposition to the ground shadow. But if effects have a gravitational orig=
in, previous studies would indicate any detection may depend more on instrum=
ent resolution. To better than one part in 10 billion, no evidence of materi=
al shielding of gravity has ever been detected.
To see detailed maps of the path of totality, click on the regions specifie=
England and France
France, Belgium, Luxemborg and Germany
Southern Germany and Austria
Austria, Hungary and Romania
Romania and Bulgaria
Turkey, Syria and Iraq
The path of totality will begin in the Eastern edge of North America, run t=
hrough Europe and the Middle East, and end in India . credit: Fred Espenak a=
nd Sky and Telescope
More Web Links
The Dark Side of the Eclipse - Science, July 2, 1999.
Autobiography of Maurice Allais - Copyright ©1999 The Nobel Foundation
Mephistos UCLA - With Pasteur and Darwin, Foucault ranks as one of the top =
three scientific influences in 19th century science.
Three Spacecraft Reveal Unexplained Motions - from Newswise
The Space Environment - Sunlight and Earthshine
The Speed of Gravity - Tom Van Flandern
Astrophysics Abstracts from Harvard/NASA
Big Bang Acceleration -- Observations of supernova explosions halfway back =
to the Big Bang give plausible evidence that the expansion of the universe h=
as been accelerating since that epoch, approximately 8 billion years ago and=
suggest that energy associated with the vacuum itself may be responsible fo=
r the acceleration.
The 1990 solar eclipse as seen by a torsion pendulum
A possible explanation for the anomalous acceleration of Pioneer 10
The Apparent Anomalous, Weak, Long-Range Acceleration of Pioneer 10 and 11
Bottlinger's and Majorana's absorption of the gravitational force and the t=
The screen effect of the earth in the TETG - Theory of a screening experime=
nt of a sample body at the equator, using the earth as a screen.
A method for detecting gravitational waves with the aid of torsion pendulum=
Effect of solar rotation on free vibrations of a torsional pendulum
M. Allais, French Academy of Sciences: C.R.A.S. (1959) 245, 1875; 245, 2001=
; 244, 2469; 245, 2467;245;2170; in English in Aero/Space Engineering, Septe=
mber and October, 1959 (18, (9) and (10).
F. Flynt, Comment, Aero/Space Engineering, May 1960
G. Gillies, Metrologia, 24 (Suppl.) 1-56 (1987)
J. Haringx and H. Suchtelen, Phillips Technical Review, 19, 236, (1957/8)
L. Jun, L. Jianguo, Z. Xuerong, V. Liakhovets, M. Lomonosov and A. Ragyn, O=
bservation of 1990 solar eclipse by a torsion pendulum, Phys. Rev. D, 44(8),=
T. Kuusela, Effect of the solar eclipse on the period of a torsion pendulum=
, Phys. Rev. D, 43(6), 2041-2043, 1991.
T. Kuusela, New measurements with a torsion pendulum during the solar eclip=
se, General Relativity and Gravitation, 4, 543-550, 1992.
D. C. Mishra, M. B. S. Vyaghreswara Rao, Temporal variation in gravity fiel=
d during solar eclipse on 24 October 1995, Current Science, 72(11), 782-783,=
L. A. Savrov, Experiment with paraconic pendulums during the November 3, 19=
94 solar eclipse in Brazil, Measurement Techniques, 40 (6), 511-516, 1997.
E. Saxl And M Allen, Phys. Rev. D3; 823, 1971
L.B. Slichter, M. Caputo, and C.L Hager, J. Geophys. REs. 70(6),1541-1551 (=
E. J. Saxl and M. Allen, 1970 solar eclipse as 'seen' by a torsion pendulum=
, Phys. Rev. D, 3, 823-825, 1971.
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