Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Our Glass, Ferrofluid Timepiece

see time fly upwards
  [vote for,

This unusual hourglass uses ferrofluid, a magnetic liquid, instead of sand, to make visible the passage of time. For one hour, the metallic black fluid flows a drop per second, from the upper globe to the lower.

Matching the one-inch thick base, the top of the timepiece houses an electromagnet that is activated every other hour. The magnetic liquid is then immediately attracted to the top of the bottom globe, and proceeds to drip upwards to accumulate as characteristic wet spikes at the top.

On the base of this unflippable hourglass is a small, digital display showing the hour and minutes. More discriminating customers may find our liquid oxygen, thermos hourglass more to their liking, when viewing the cold, light blue fluid drip upwards behind double glass.

FarmerJohn, Apr 28 2003

Rare earth magnets for fun and profit http://www.dansdata.com/magnets.htm
and ferrofluids explained [FarmerJohn, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Or iron filings and an electromagnet at the top?
FloridaManatee, Apr 28 2003

       And [FarmerJohn] comes up with yet another innovative clock idea.
kaz, Apr 28 2003

       as described, it is 'unflippable', which means it still looks like an ordinary hourglass. (Lovely desriptive written image, by the way). However, don't you miss a trick by not actually using the art of the timepiece to tell the time - instead relying on the digital display. You could achieve a different effect by putting the hourglass on a central pivot (paying at least some respect to gravity!) while the end-piece electromagnets still attract the ferrofluid regardless of gravity. I mean that the proportion of fluid in the opposing bubbles of the hourglass act as a balance so the quantity of fluid gives you a visual display of how many minutes past the hour it is. At xx:01, the drips go upwards because the base bubble is obviously heavier. At xx:30, there is an equal amount of fluid in both bubbles, so the hourglass should be balanced. In the latter part of the hour, the drips will be behaving conventionally (i.e. downwards) apart from the fact that they drip absolutely perpendicularly to the magnet drawing them. This would need something to force the initial motion of the pivot when it is in the equilibrium position (all the fluid at the bottom).

[badgers gets out of her depth here:] You could have another (larger, or different coloured fluid) hourglass for the hours, or stick with the digital display for the hours only. Or you could make the hourglass move in the x-z plane for hours, and the perpendicular plane for minutes - think of one of those gyro-things, wheels within wheels. e.g. 00:00 the hourglass is vertical and all fluid is at the base. I am looking at it from the south. At 01:00 it appears vertical and all fluid is at the base, but if I look at it from the east, the base is 15 degrees from the vertical. At 06:00 the hourly movement occurs entirely in the horizontal plane.
The more I think about this the more I confuse myself... perhaps the original simplicity was best!! (((I'll get my coat...)))
badgers, Apr 28 2003

       Wow (+)
I can't even begin to have enough time to read all of the ideas on your profile page, but it’s easy to see where all of the bakery's flour has gotten to.

       I feel compelled to design an Unflippable Hourglass Flipper. +
Don Quixote, Apr 28 2003

       Slaughter the fatted calf! The prodigal clockmaker returneth! +
RayfordSteele, Apr 28 2003

       This would answer the problem of balding, if only we had magnetic heads...
k_sra, Apr 29 2003


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