Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.What it reminds me of is the auto-synchronization of five metronomes, but in that case the metronomes were coupled, at least loosely, by being placed on a movable platform. The pendulums, as I understand it, are not interacting, but simply demonstrating mathematical relationships.
The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations.
Our apparatus was built from a design published by Richard Berg [Am J Phys 59(2), 186-187 (1991)] at the University of Maryland. The particular apparatus shown here was built by our own Nils Sorensen.
Via Cynical-C, clusterflock, and Kottke.
Addendum: Reposted from 2011 to add a link to this related phenomenon, which I don't know how to embed. Via Reddit.