If you’re the kind of person who likes to arrange your Skittles candy by colour, or who refuses to get out of bed until the clock displays a round number, the start of this video might be tough to watch. But stick with it- everything falls into nice, neat, regulated order soon enough!
In a recently-released video from Saitama University’s Ikeguchi laboratories, 32 metronomes are placed in even (phew!) rows and set off one by one, creating a horrendous cacophony of clicks and whirrs.
At first, there’s nothing but visual and audio chaos as the pendulums swing back and forth at their own pace. Although the human brain naturally searches for patterns and rhythms, there are none to be found here, which is perhaps what makes it so uncomfortable for the more OCD-oriented of us to watch.
Around 30 seconds in, close your eyes and you might start to hear the semblance of a rhythm. Two or three of the little guys almost sound like they’re moving in time with one-another. A trick of the imagination, surely?
But no! There it is again! Louder this time! It’s as if… as if they’re working together!!! Before your very eyes and ears, the metronomes fall into complete harmony, and continue to swing away happily from then on.
As reported by the clever chaps at Ikeguchi laboratories, this is a well-known physical phenomenon, and was first observed in the 17th century.
Since I, of all the RocketNews24 team, have perhaps the least mathematically-minded brain, I’ll spare you my explanation of the physics involved here. But, in short, the metronomes, if placed on the same surface, act upon each-other through vibration. If the vibrations a metronome sends out are not in sync with those surrounding it, it will cause an imbalance, with the metronome eventually taking on the same rhythm as those ahead of it. Over time, they all come to swing in time, creating a balanced vibration.
It’s like comparing a video of first day recruits marching to their performance six months later.
Aaaah, sweet, ordered rhythm!