Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón
O Botafumeiro: parametric pumping in the Middle Age.
"American Journal of Physics", v. 52
The pendular motion of a giant censer (O Botafumeiro) that hangs in the transept of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and is cyclically pumped by men who pull at the supporting rope, is analyzed. Maximum angular amplitude attainable, and number of cycles and time needed to
attain it, are calculated; the results agree with observed values (~ 82°, ~ 17 cycles, ~ 80 seconds) to the few percent accuracy of both the analysis and the observations and parameter measurements. The energy gain in a pumping cycle is obtained for an arbitrary pumping procedure to two orders in the small fractional change of pendular length; the relevance of the ratio (characteristic radial acceleration during pumping)/g to the gain is discussed- Effects due to rope mass, air drag on both Censer and rope, and the fact that the Censer is not a point mass, are
considered. If the pumping cycle is inverted once the maximum amplitude has been attained, the Censer could be swiftly brought to rest, avoiding the usual violent stop. Historically recorded accidents, rope shape, and the influence of relevant parameters on the motion are discussed.