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ERIC Number: EJ896106
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Verge and Foliot Clock Escapement: A Simple Dynamical System
Denny, Mark
Physics Teacher, v48 n6 p374-376 Sep 2010
The earliest mechanical clocks appeared in Europe in the 13th century. From about 1250 CE to 1670 CE, these simple clocks consisted of a weight suspended from a rope or chain that was wrapped around a horizontal axle. To tell time, the weight must fall with a slow uniform speed, but, under the action of gravity alone, such a suspended weight would accelerate. To prevent this acceleration, an "escapement mechanism" was required. The best such escapement mechanism was called the "verge and foliot" escapement, and it was so successful that it lasted until about 1800 CE. These simple weight-driven clocks with verge and foliot escapements were accurate enough to mark the hours but not minutes or seconds. From 1670, significant improvements were made (principally by introducing pendulums and the newly invented anchor escapement) that justified the introduction of hands to mark minutes, and then seconds. By the end of the era of mechanical clocks, in the first half of the 20th century, these much-studied and much-refined machines were accurate to a millisecond a day.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A