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A pendulum, derived from the Latin word "pendulus," meaning "hanging," is a body that hangs from a fixed point which, when pulled back and released, swings back and forth.
The Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered the principle of the oscillatory motion of the pendulum. He discovered the pendulum in 1581. In his experiments, Galilei established that the time it takes for the back-and-forth motion of a pendulum of a given length remains the same even if its arc, or amplitude, decreases. Through the pendulum, Galilei discovered isochronisms, the pendulum's most important characteristics, which make them useful in measuring time.
Pendulums act upon different forces.The pendulum's inertia -- the resistance of a physical object -- is what makes the pendulum swing straight out and up. The downward force of gravity, which is the force that causes two objects to pull toward each other, is what pulls the pendulum straight back. Another force, air resistance, which determines the pendulum's velocity, makes a pendulum swing in shorter arcs.