Gravity Pendulum

The pine box holding this pendulum is marked "To Prof. T. C. Mendenhall Columbus, Ohio U.S.A." and "D Pendulum box June 18th 1882 Phy Laby Tokio." The reference is to Thomas C. Mendenhall, an American physicist who taught at the Imperial University in Tokyo in the years 1878-1881, used gravity pendulums at Tokyo and atop Mount Fuji, and calculated the mean density of the earth. Mendenhall probably used this pendulum in Japan, but he did not mention it in his published papers. Returning to the United States in 1881, Mendenhall taught physics at the Ohio State University, in Columbus. He was named superintendent of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey in 1889.
Ref: Victor Lenzen and Robert Multhauf, "Development of Gravity Pendulums in the 19th Century," United States National Museum Bulletin 240 (1965): 301-348.
Henry Crew, "Thomas Corwin Mendenhall," National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs 16 (1934): 331-351.
T. C. Mendenhall, "Determination of the Acceleration due to the Force of Gravity, at Tokio, Japan," American Journal of Science 20 (1880): 124-132.
T. C. Mendenhall, "On a Determination of the Force of Gravity at the Summit of Fujiyama, Japan," American Journal of Science 21 (1881): 99-103.
Currently not on view
Object Name
gravity pendulum
overall: 48 1/8 in; 122.2375 cm
overall weight: 132 oz
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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