Damped Oscillation Examples:Detailed Insights

In the actual world, oscillations do not always follow the proper SHM pattern. In most cases, friction of some kind results in damping oscillations. Let us see some damped oscillation examples as follows:

Mass attached to the spring:

One can witness in any common science laboratory that the oscillations occur when some mass m is coupled to a spring with a force constant ‘k’. When the spring is compressed or released from some distance then one can observe the oscillations taking place. These oscillations take place as a result of energy stored in the spring.

Eventually, the oscillations decays and finally the spring stops oscillating at some point as a result of air friction. This decay in the oscillations is nothing but a damping of oscillations. This is the most common damped oscillation example. 

Damped Oscillation Examples

Kids on spring horse:

The oscillations produced by children seated on spring horses in the park are something we see on a regular basis. Once the horse has been brought back and freed, it is possible to witness the child sitting on the horse moving back and forth, which is equivalent to performing oscillations. Eventually, it slows down and finally comes to a complete stop, which is nothing but the damping of oscillations in the spring horse.

Image Credits: ParkCross, HK Sunday Wan Chai Park Playground Spring Horse, CC BY-SA 3.0

Swinging pendulum: 

If we swing a pendulum with a specific length of string, we will see that it achieves its greatest height during the first oscillation and then steadily drops in height as the number of oscillations increases. This is owing to the presence of opposing forces such as air drag. The moment arrives when the pendulum comes to a complete halt. In this case, the vibration is being dampened, or we may say that it is losing energy.

Image Credits: Brightyellowjeans, Pendulum swing, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bungee jumping:

When a person hops off a bridge or a platform, a long, elastic rope is tied to the ankles of the individual, which causes a series of vertical oscillations to be generated on the bridge or platform. These vertical oscillations will continue to occur as long as the elastic rope has energy. And, once it has used all of its energy, it causes oscillations to be dampened. Bungee jumping is one of the best damped oscillations examples.

Image Credits: Gerhard Grabner, Bungee jauntal 1, CC BY-SA 3.0

Swimming pool diving board:

Have you ever observed the person who is standing on the diving board in the swimming pool? When a person is standing on the diving board, ready to jump into the pool, you must have seen that the diving board bends downward. The bending of the board indicates that the energy is being stored in the board itself.

When the individual jumps off the diving board, he or she flies a little high in the air before diving into the water as an act of the force. After that, we can see that the diving board is still oscillating a little bit after it has taken off. Damping oscillation is a phenomenon in which stored energy in a diving board gradually diminishes and eventually ceases, as demonstrated by the diving board.

Image Credits: Citizen D, Rippon Lea swimming pool, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pirate ship:

Have you ever taken a trip to an amusement park or a water park? Yes. Of course, we all did. The pirate ship trip is something we always see and appreciate. In some parts of the world, a pirate ship is referred to as a dragon boat, and vice versa.

The engine causes the ride to oscillate back and forth motion when it is turned on. Eventually, these oscillations come to a halt, which is nothing more than a damping of oscillations.

Image Credits: Chris Sampson, BlackBuccaneer Cropped, CC BY 2.0

RLC circuit:

In electronics, damping-driven oscillation is a common phenomenon. An electronic damped driven oscillator is a fundamental component in a variety of applications. Let’s have a look at a series RLC circuit to see how damped driven oscillator works in electronics.

If the capacitor is charged to its maximum capacity and the voltage source is withdrawn from the circuit, a capacitor will discharge and current will flow through the inductor in a closed circuit. According to Lenz Law, which opposes current flow, the inductor will accumulate stored magnetic energy.

Once the capacitor has been entirely discharged, the inductor’s magnetic field causes a reversal of the current flowing through the capacitor, which charges it in the opposite way. This course of action will be repeated, but it will be dampened by the resistive parts in the circuit.

To compensate for the energy loss, a sinusoidal signal source is required to maintain the RLC circuit’s oscillation.  A damped driven oscillator is formed as a result of the addition of the signal source to the RLC circuit.

String instruments:

There are so many string instruments from which we are very much familiar with guitar and violin. When we pluck a string of a guitar or rub a bow on the string of the violin, then we can hear melodious sounds.

This sound is caused by the up and down vibrations of the string of the respective instrument. After some time has passed, it is found that the strings cease to vibrate, demonstrating the phenomena of damping of oscillation.

Image Credits: eyes355, with elements byː Lardyfatboy, Wayne Rogers, Rama, Martin Möller, Gringer, Musik- och teatermuseet, Stringed Instruments, CC BY-SA 3.0

Swinging on a playground swing:

We all have been swinging since we were able to walk, whether in a baby swing at home or a kiddie one on the playground, or any other swing in the garden. To take a swing, we move a little backward with the help of our legs and then release or set free our legs.

This process acts as a force and stores energy which then results in initializing the oscillations. These to and fro oscillations eventually slow down as the effect of air resistance and hence the oscillations get dampened. 

Image Credits: “Swinging Violet” (CC BY 2.0) by Joe Shlabotnik


When we simply press and release the spring, it will eventually return to its original position after some compression and relaxation have occurred. This is also the damping of oscillations.

Image Credits: Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay 

These all are damped oscillation examples that we see and experience in our daily life and surroundings.

Prajakta Gharat

I am Prajakta Gharat. I have completed Post Graduation in physics in 2020. Currently I am working as a Subject Matter Expert in Physics for Lambdageeks. I try to explain Physics subject easily understandable in simple way.

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