Spinning Objects in Space: The Geometric Phase of an Asymmetric Top

Nicholas Mecholsky
Vitreous State Laboratory

Wed, April 17, 2019 - 4:00 PM
Karl Herzfeld Auditorium of Hannan Hall - Rm 108

n.mecholsky--cp.jpgThe motion of a handle spinning in space has an odd behavior. It seems to
unexpectedly flip back and forth in a periodic manner as seen in a popular
YouTube video (“Plasma Ben, Dancing T-handle in zero-g, HD,”

As an asymmetrical top, its motion is completely described by the Euler equations and the equations of motion have been known for more than a century. However, recent concepts of the geometric phase have allowed a new perspective on this classical problem. In this talk, I report a closed form expression for the total phase and hence the geometric phase of the force-free asymmetric top and explore some consequences of this formula with the particular example of the spinning handle for demonstration purposes. As one of the simplest dynamical systems, the asymmetric top should be a canonical example to explore the classical analog of the Berry phase.

Refreshments served at 3:45 PM

If you have any questions about the Colloquium Series  or would like to make a donation please contact Adrienne Black, black@cua.edu or (202) 319-5315.