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Chandler wobble

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Science book series (EESS)

The term wobble pertains to a free mode of motion of a rotating object in the absence of external torques. The free rotation of an object will be uniform only when the rotation axis happens to coincide with one of the three principal axes of the object; in this case the object does not wobble. Otherwise it will wobble, or even ‘tumble’ if the wobble is too severe. An easy way to demonstrate wobble is to throw a plate (or a ‘frisbee’) spinning in the air. Unless thrown perfectly, the plate would wobble (for a plate the wobble period is about half of the spin period). The rotational dynamics of a rigid body were first established by Euler in the 1750s. As a result, especially in the early literature, wobble has been referred to as the ‘(free) Eulerian nutation’ or ‘(free) Eulerian precession’, although it is neither a nutation nor precession in the classical sense.

The Earth also wobbles, independently of external luni-solar tidal torques. To an observer on the Earth (analogous to an ant...

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© 1997 Chapman & Hall

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Chao, B.F. (1997). Chandler wobble . In: Encyclopedia of Planetary Science. Encyclopedia of Earth Science. Springer, Dordrecht.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-412-06951-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4020-4520-2

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