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Accurate Clock Pendulums$
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Robert J. Matthys

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198529712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529712.001.0001

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Putting Q in perspective

Putting Q in perspective

(p.27) Chapter 7 Putting Q in perspective
Accurate Clock Pendulums

Robert James Matthys

Oxford University Press

Q is a clock oscillator's quality factor, a measure of how low its energy losses are with respect to the total energy stored in the motion of the oscillator. This chapter provides some new information on Q and looks at arguments both for and against it. The value of Q rests on two facts: that increasing a pendulum's Q means lower drive forces, which means less pendulum disturbance, which means a more accurate clock; and that historically (but not scientifically), a higher Q generally means a higher long-term accuracy. On a global scale of wristwatches to atomic frequency standards, Q is historically often proportional to long-term clock accuracy. This makes Q significant as an indicator of clock accuracy on a global clock scale. On the more limited scale of pendulum clocks by themselves, both temperature compensation and aging are more important issues than Q since their errors are bigger than the increased accuracy available from an increased Q.

Keywords:   Q, quality factor, clock oscillator, pendulum, accuracy, pendulum clocks, temperature compensation, aging

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