Christiaan Huygens was the first person to discover the general formula for the center of oscillation length of a physical pendulum. He was motivated to do this work by his interest in constructing accurate pendulum clocks. It is remarkable that Huygens arrived at his brilliant solution about a quarter of a century before the publication of the first edition of Newton’s Principia. This paper analyzes Huygens’ little‐known derivation in detail. We take particular note of Huygens’ ingenious idea of having the moving physical pendulum ‘‘theoretically explode’’ into constituent pieces which then rise until their kinetic energy is exhausted.

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