Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Plane with variable inclination
    • Setting:
      Room XII
    • Maker:
    • Place:
    • Date:
      late 18th cent.
    • Materials:
      wood, marble, brass, iron
    • Dimensions:
      530x270x650 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Plane with variable inclination (Inv. 1402)

This plane with variable inclination was used for many important experiments in classical mechanics. In particular, it allows the study of equilibrium conditions and the attrition of bodies placed on surfaces sloping at different angles.

The wooden base is hinged at one end to a frame holding a marble slab. The slab can be set at an angle ranging between 0° and 45° by means of two toothed brass arcs. A square beam carrying a pulley rests on top of the frame. A cord passing over the pulley connects a lead weight to a stirrup holding a brass cylinder that rests on the marble plane. By changing the angle of the slab and applying different weights to the cylinder, one can examine the changes in the equilibrium conditions and the attrition of the cylinder on the marble surface.

The apparatus, recorded in the inventories of the Lorraine collections, is unsigned. However, some structural details such as the toothed arcs suggest a likely German provenance.