Since the pioneering works of Newton $(1643-1727)$, Mechanics has been constantly reinventing itself: reformulated in particular by Lagrange $(1736-1813)$ then Hamilton $(1805-1865)$, it now offers powerful conceptual and mathematical tools for the exploration of the most complex dynamical systems, essentially via the action-angle variables formulation and more generally through the theory of canonical transformations. We give the reader an overview of these different formulations through the well-known example of Foucault's pendulum, a device created by Foucault $(1819-1868)$ and first installed in the Panthéon (Paris, France) in 1851 to display the Earth's rotation. The apparent simplicity of the Foucault pendulum is indeed an open door to the most contemporary ramifications of Classical Mechanics. We stress that the action-angle variable formalism is not necessary to understand Foucault's pendulum. The latter is simply taken as well-known simple dynamical system used to exemplify modern concepts that are crucial in order to understand more complicated dynamical systems. The Foucault pendulum installed in the collegiate church of Sainte-Waudru (Mons, Belgium) will allow us to numerically estimate the different quantities introduced. A free adaptation of excerpts from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" will offer the reader some poetic breaths.
- Pub Date:
- April 2020
- Physics - History and Philosophy of Physics;
- Physics - Physics Education;
- Physics - Popular Physics
- Physics 2020, 2(4), 531-540 (Aice's citations have been dropped in the published version)