228: Resonance

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Resonance
It's really hard to control the frequency, actually.
Title text: It's really hard to control the frequency, actually.

Explanation

Resonance is the tendency for an object to oscillate when energy is transferred to it at a specific set of frequencies (known as harmonics of the natural frequency of the object). A simple example of this is pushing a child on a swing: by pushing the child at the right moment, more and more energy is transferred to the system and the amplitude of the oscillation grows.

In this comic, the friend is jiggling his leg up and down at a harmonic of the natural frequency of Cueball's desk. This causes Cueball's desk to vibrate more and more until objects on it start to bounce around. Rather than have the friend stop, Cueball wants him to slightly increase the frequency of the jiggling in order to spill the drink on Steve's desk (which is not pictured).

Transcript

[Cueball is sitting at a desk, which is vibrating.]
clatter clatter
[He leans back and turns to face someone sitting at another desk behind him.]
Cueball: Excuse me--you're jiggling your leg up and down. It's traveling through the floor and making my desk resonate.
Friend: Oh, I didn't even realize! I'll stop.
[Cueball passes a sheet of paper to the friend.]
Cueball: Actually, can you just shift the frequency up by 15%? I think you can get resonance with Steve's desk instead.
Friend: Uh huh...
Cueball: Here are the calculations. Let's coordinate and try to spill his drink.
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