Lissajous Apparatus (Tuning Fork and Stand)


With a Lissajous apparatus—devised by Jules Antoine Lissajous (1822-1880), a French mathematician—a beam of light is bounced off a mirror attached to a horizontal tuning fork, then off a second mirror attached to a vertical tuning fork, and then onto a wall. The resulting images are the graphs of complex harmonic motions known as Lissajous figures. This example came from the Smithsonian Instrument Room, and was probably purchased by Joseph Henry, the physicist who served as founding Secretary of the Smithsonian. It was, moreover, probably made by Rudolph Koenig in Paris.

Maker: Rudolph Koenig

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: France: Île-de-France, Paris

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.314591.04Catalog Number: 314591.04Accession Number: 205890

Object Name: tuning fork

Measurements: overall: 13 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in x 1 7/16 in; 34.29 cm x 6.985 cm x 3.65125 cm


Record Id: nmah_1822842

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