Monday, February 26, 2007
A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation,
based on the principle of conservation of angular momentum. In
physics this is also known as gyroscopic inertia or rigidity in
space. The essence of the device is a spinning wheel on an axle.
The device, once spinning, tends to resist changes to its
orientation due to the angular momentum of the wheel.
A gyroscope exhibits a number of behaviours including precession
and nutation. Gyroscopes can be used to construct gyrocompasses
which complement or replace magnetic compasses (in ships, aircraft
and spacecraft, vehicles in general), to assist in stability
(bicycle, Hubble Space Telescope, ships, vehicles in general) or be
used as part of an Inertial guidance system. Gyroscopic effects are
used in toys like yo-yos and dynabees. Many other rotating devices,
such as flywheels, behave gyroscopically although the gyroscopic
effect is not used.