The Swinging Sticks

Infinity candle

The Swinging Sticks kinetic energy sculpture was developed in 1996 in Germany but became famous after the movie Iron Man 2, where it could be seen swinging on Tony Starks desk...

The Swinging Sticks kinetic energy sculpture was developed in 1996 in Germany but became famous after the movie Iron Man 2, where it could be seen swinging on Tony Starks desk. Its creators always dreamed of creating some kind of perpetual motion machine. Although it is not possible to create a real perpetual motion machine, as this would violate the law of conservation of energy, this kinetic sculpture is very close to a perpetual motion machine, or at least it seems so. It can be very mesmerizing to watch these precisely balanced aluminum rods rotate and oscillate, constantly changing direction and speed. Such a dynamic system is known in physics as the double pendulum and can move very chaotically, being extremely sensitive to the initial conditions. To maintain its movement, this sculpture uses two magnets. At the end of the longer rod is located a small but very powerful permanent magnet.

Inside the base, however, there is a small electromagnet and sensors. The sensors evaluate the speed of the moving rod, and if it is slow enough, the electromagnet turns on at exactly the right time. Since there are two magnetic fields of the same polarity facing each other, they will push and the rod will gain momentum. As this pushing requires only very little energy, the swinging sticks can swing up to two years without stopping.