How's That? (43)

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    Puzzle Series: What is this, or what do you want it to be?

    For full credit, how does this mechanical device (no electricity) operate for a lifetime without being touched or moved?

    CARNEFRESCA, Tim Crowe, fatllama, and 7 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Max__ [deleted] 110 months ago | reply

      The innards of a Cukoo clock? Or one of those clocks with animated figurines that work with weights.

    2. The Rocketeer 110 months ago | reply

      It looks like the insides of an anniversary clock. I believe it works on changes in temperature, perhaps using a nitinol wire spring that changes shape with temperature changes combined with a ratchet like gearset allowing it to uncoil and recoil with temperature changes.

    3. jurvetson 110 months ago | reply

      You are correct that it is a clock.

      On to the crux of the puzzle: "how does this mechanical device (no electricity) operate for a lifetime without being touched or moved?"

    4. The Rocketeer 110 months ago | reply

      Well, I guess the Nitinol idea was wrong.

      Does it work on changes in temperature and air pressure on a ballast that converts pressure changes to movement and that ballast moves a winding mechanism?

      There is a Beverly Clock that uses air pressure and temperature combined to wind itself. At the bottom of this page, is a photo and explanation of how it works.

    5. Max__ [deleted] 110 months ago | reply

      The small chain on a wheel could be the link between the energy providing mechanism and the clock. Is it Steve? That's what made me think of weights at first.

    6. Ziko 110 months ago | reply

      I think the clock works on solar energy so in this way it is neither touched or moved.. Am i right??

    7. The Rocketeer 110 months ago | reply

      James Cox also made a pressure wound clock, thinking he stumbled onto perpetual motion. His work is described here.

    8. jurvetson 110 months ago | reply

      Bingo Rocketeer, and welcome back! You described the mechanism perfectly, even if Google led you to other clock designs.

      It is a Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clock. It uses a bellows with a mixture of liquid and Ethyl Chloride gas to harvest energy from tiny temperature variations over the day. The early designs used mercury.

      Maximo: yes, the chain is the linkage from the bellows, which is the large disc that fills the entire right side of the photo. The rotating circular pendulum is at the bottom, connected to the shaft running up the middle.

      “The story of the ATMOS is a fascinating one. Centuries ago the great Leonardo Da Vinci demonstrated the physical impossibility of constructing a perpetual motion device. However, scientists and artisans of many nationalities have always tried continually to do so anyway. In 1928 a French engineer named Jean-Leon Reutter constructed a clock driven quite literally by the air. This device captured the imagination of many of his contemporary clock makers. After extensive development, Jaeger LeCoultre, a famous watch and clock maker in its own right, perfected and patented the perpetual motion Atmos clock and began marketing it world wide.

      The technological concept is a remarkable one. Inside a sealed capsule, a mixture of gas and liquid expands as the temperature rises and contracts as it falls, moving the capsule back and forth like a tiny unseen accordion. This motion is used to constantly wind the mainspring thus enabling the clock to run and keep perfect time. A small temperature variation of just one degree is sufficient for over two day's operation. Such variation occurs naturally in normal room temperature and thus without any additional sources of energy, the Atmos clock will continue to run, if left untouched, "forever".

      The Atmos is the ultimate environmentally friendly device, there are no batteries to throw away, no electrical consumption of any kind to consider. But this is no quartz clock, the Atmos is a precision device of the first order. To convert the small amount of energy that comes from the air, everything inside the Atmos is made to be virtually frictionless and runs as smoothly and as quietly as is humanly possible. The power consumed by a 15 watt light bulb could run over 60 million Atmos clocks simultaneously!

      The parts inside the Atmos are also virtually wear free, thus an Atmos can expect an operational service life of over 600 years” (history)

      Some photos

    9. Max__ [deleted] 110 months ago | reply

      Awesome idea!
      Now that the subject of perpetual motion devices was brought on, I guess Steve or Kevin might be able to answer this doubt I have. When talking about perpetual motion, are we talking about a closed system that conseres the energy or a device such as this, that uses energy available in the environement to run? I mean, the second one seems quite plausible, while the first one doesn't (to me, I'm not a scholar on the subject!).

    10. nhr 110 months ago | reply

      For us mechanical clock aficionados who are into European brands like Jaeger LeCoultre, that one was easy :-)
      Anyway, that long-lived and frugal mechanism somehow reminds me of Danny Hillis' "Long Now" Millenium Clock project:

      "[..] I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every one hundred years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years."
      www.longnow.org/10kclock/clkPurpose.htm

      One tick per year ?!?
      Being the impatient kind of person, I'd have thought that one tick per day would already be slow enough... Such a clock would already be 86,400 times slower than a normal clock ticking, say, every second... If a typical mechanical clock lasted, say, decades, even with one tick per day we'd be talking millions of years of timekeeping. Plenty long enough for me...

    11. Ziko 110 months ago | reply

      I love this pic as well as the information shared .. thank you.

    12. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 110 months ago | reply

      Shakespiare is to modern Love what Leonardo is to modern technology. Fathers of the world, as we live it.

    13. The Rocketeer 110 months ago | reply

      That's a very cool clock. Is this one in your collection?

    14. jurvetson 110 months ago | reply

      maximo: right. perpetual motion in a closed system is still impossible.

      nhr: that is a very cool project. They have secured some land for the 10K clock. It will be in a cave surrounded, appropriately, with bristle cone pines. It will be in a hard to get to place, requiring a long hike. Tourist vandals are a concern for anything that needs to last that many generations.

      rocketeer: yup. On my shelf at work, next to Bausch & Lomb's first microscope.

    15. gem66 106 months ago | reply

      A way cool clock! Thanks for posting it to Timepieces.

    16. fatllama 105 months ago | reply

      Great photo, description, invention.

      (This photo is nominated for Best Physics Photo by the Physics Group.)

    17. Mr. Physics 105 months ago | reply

      Excellent! Both the photo and the explanation.

    18. Bumblebee 96 months ago | reply

      Kewl! My father just gave me the Atmos he received when he retired! I think it dates from around 1980, and it's in great condition. I've been researching it on the Internet, and here's a photo right here on Flickr!

    19. Professor Fumolatro 61 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Gotta Love Brass, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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