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Gyroscopic Precession and Nutation

Gyroscopes have always fascinated me. Even after taking engineer physics classes and learning the principles, I still find it amazing that the momentum of a spinning, stationary object will resist an attitudinal perturbance. This video demonstrates the ability of a gyro to hold up a relatively heavy mass, and the resulting precession. It is the same phenomenon that causes the Earth's 26k-year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes.

Also demonstrated is nutation, which is the same kind of wobble that occurs with our moon that causes a slight variation in the lines between the light and dark sides. It has the period of a lunar orbit. The Earth also experiences nutation, but its period of 18.6 years is barely noticeable.






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