Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
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Thursday word: lissajous curve

lissajous curve (LEE-suh-zhoo or lee-suh-ZHOO) or lissajous figure - n., a plane curve traced by a point executing two perpendicular, independent harmonic motions with frequencies in a simple ratio.




Two examples, with ratios of 2:1 and 2:3. Curves in the general shape of the 2:1 curve are sometimes informally called lissajous curves (as in the usage example below), but this is not technically correct. These are most commonly seen on oscilloscopes in movies, especially if made in the mid-20th century. Also seen capitalized, as it's named after French physicist Jules Antoine Lissajous, who studied them as part of investigated sound and harmonics. More information is available at the obligatory Wikipedia article and the Math Images wiki, and if you have Java here's a widget to play with.

The spacecraft glided on a beautiful lissajous curve of an orbit around the planet and its moon.

---L.
Tags: french, l, mathematical
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