Effect of Temperature on the Time Period of a Simple Pendulum

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Effect of Temperature on the Time Period of a Simple Pendulum


In this article we are going to discuss the effect of temperature on the time period of a simple pendulum, i.e., how the time read by a pendulum clock is affected by the rise and fall in temperature.

A pendulum clock consists of a metal bar attached with a bob at one end and fixed at the other end.

The length of pendulum (length of metal bar) depends on temperature, and hence time period of clock depends on temperature.

Let a pendulum clock read correct time when its length is l0. Its time period t is given by :-

\displaystyle t=2\pi \sqrt{\frac{{{l}_{0}}}{g}}

Now suppose that the temperature is raised by ΔT, then new time period becomes

\displaystyle {{t}^{'}}=2\pi \sqrt{\frac{l}{g}}

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}}{t}=\sqrt{\frac{l}{{{l}_{0}}}}

Now from thermal expansion, new length of pendulum(l), is given by :-

l = l0( 1 + α ΔT)


\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}}{t}=\sqrt{\frac{{{l}_{0}}(1+\alpha \Delta T)}{{{l}_{0}}}}

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}}{t}=\sqrt{(1+\alpha \Delta T)}={{(1+\alpha \Delta T)}^{1/2}}

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}}{t}=1+\frac{1}{2}\alpha \Delta T

[As the value of α is very small]

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}}{t}-1=\frac{1}{2}\alpha \Delta T

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{{{t}^{'}}-t}{t}=\frac{1}{2}\alpha \Delta T

Now t’-t = Δt, is loss in time


Fractional loss in time \displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{\Delta t}{t}=\frac{1}{2}\alpha \Delta T

Here fractional loss in time means, per second loss in time.

Number of seconds in one day = 86400

⇒ Time lost per day = \displaystyle \frac{1}{2}\alpha \Delta T\times 86400\sec .


Example. A pendulum clock gives correct time at  at a place where  . The pendulum consists of a light steel rod connected to a heavy ball. It is taken to a different place where  . At what temperature will it give correct time? Coefficient of linear expansion of steel .


As, \displaystyle t=2\pi \sqrt{\frac{l}{g}}

For the pendulum to keep correct time, its time period must be 2seconds.

⇒  \displaystyle 2=2\pi \sqrt{\frac{{{l}_{0}}}{9.8}}     …..(1)

and at another place

⇒  \displaystyle 2=2\pi \sqrt{\frac{{{l}_{0}}[1+12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)]}{9.788}}    …..(2)

Equating (1) and (2), we get

\displaystyle \frac{{{l}_{0}}}{9.8}=\frac{{{l}_{0}}}{9.788}[1+12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)]

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{9.788}{9.8}=1+12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)

\displaystyle \Rightarrow \frac{9.788}{9.8}-1=12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)

\displaystyle \Rightarrow -\frac{0.012}{9.8}=12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)

\displaystyle \Rightarrow -\frac{12\times {{10}^{-3}}}{9.8}=12\times {{10}^{-6}}\times (T-20)

\displaystyle \Rightarrow -\frac{1000}{9.8}=T-20

\displaystyle T-20=-102

⇒     T = -82ºC

About the author

Manoj Kumar Verma

Hi, I'm Manoj Kumar Verma, a physics faculty having 7 years of teaching experience. I have done B.Tech (E.E.). I am also a YouTuber and Blogger. This blog is dedicated to help students learn the physics concepts easily.

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