SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gyroscope. Engraving of a spinning gyroscope device. A gyroscope has a heavy spinning disc known as a flywheel (centre left) mounted on an axle. In the image the flywheel is spinning (as shown by arrows) causing the gyroscope to stay at an approximate right angle to its holder. Its ability to do this depends on the principle of conservation of angular momentum. The fact that it will stay at an approximate right angle as long as it is spinning fast enough demonstrates the property of gyroscopic inertia, that is that the direction of the spin axis resists change. Gyroscopes are used in stabilisation devices and compasses in boats and aircraft.
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