Synchronization of clocks

Marcin Kapitaniak, Tomasz Kapitaniak (Corresponding Author), Krzysztof Czolczynski, Andrzej Stefanski, Przemyslaw Perlikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)
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In this report we recall the famous Huygens’ experiment which gave the first evidence of the synchronization phenomenon. We consider the synchronization of two clocks which are accurate (show the same time) but have pendula with different masses. It has been shown that such clocks hanging on the same beam can show the almost complete (in-phase) and almost antiphase synchronizations. By almost complete and almost antiphase synchronization we defined the periodic motion of the pendula in which the phase shift between the displacements of the pendula is respectively close (but not equal) to 0 or p. We give evidence that almost antiphase synchronization was the phenomenon observed by Huygens in XVII century. We support our numerical studies by considering the energy balance in the system and showing how the energy is transferred between the pendula via oscillating beam allowing the pendula’s synchronization. Additionally we discuss the synchronization of a number of different pendulum clocks hanging from a horizontal beam which can roll on the parallel surface. It has been shown that after a transient, different types of synchronization between pendula can be observed; (i) the complete synchronization in which all pendula behave identically, (ii) pendula create three or five clusters of synchronized pendula. We derive the equations for the estimation of the phase differences between phase synchronized clusters. The evidence, why other configurations with a different number of clusters are not observed, is given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-69
Number of pages69
JournalPhysics Reports
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • synchronization
  • clocks
  • discontinuos systems


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