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Mercury Windomirometers

Its not what you think...
  [vote for,

For the regulation of interior temperatures, automatically and without an external power source Terra Fourtunata enterprises presents the latest in solar regulation.

Using the most modern in window construction techniques we manufacture windows with the screens built in!

The function and construction of the unit is as simple as that of a mercury thermometer, reflective silver fluid rising in a vacuum tube to indicate temperature, only in the Windomiromiter the fluid metal rises into a thin nitrogen filled chamber built into the surface of the window assisted by a thermowax cylinder designed to make the unit responsive almost entirely to the temperature of the room, and not the window itself.

As the room temperature rises the mercury expands out of the reservoir and into a level "screen" rising from the base of the window gradually turning the entire window into a decor complimentary mirrored surface of the highest quality. A reservoir at the top of the window contains the displaced gas.

A manual pressure application and relief valve offers the homeowner complete control of both the manual and automatic function of the Windmirometer. Reflective surface provides positive solar rejection along with a pleasant interior effect. More decorative models feature patterns rather than a solid screen and allow the home owner to match their interior and exterior decor.

The simplicity of the design removes the disgusting clutter and visual confusion of fixtures and cloth from your modern abode. Perfect for your super secret island base where money is no object. For people who worry about mercury just consider how much less likely this is to break than your thin walled CFL bulbs.I feel that this design now accommodates the former mechanical engineering problems, and is cheaper than a vacuum based construction. Each window should require only a few CC's of mercury with the assistance of a thermowax servo.

WcW, May 18 2009

Wow! The symptoms of mercury toxicity from dental fillings strongly resembles the behaviour of the halfbakers! http://www.mercuryp...d.com/symptoms.html
I still like the idea though. [normzone, May 19 2009]

What MaxB and Lurch have to look forward to http://www.youtube....watch?v=LLJCMzBiqh0
On a side note, you should check out "memory loss" as well [MikeD, May 20 2009]

Mercury House Mercury_20House
[ldischler, May 20 2009]


       If someone were to walk up to the window and press on it, the vacuum chamber would be squeezed and the mercury would rise, shutting off the view. Now this could be good or bad, but since it would prevent you from seeing me putting a blowfish face on your window I'm tempted to see it as generally negative.   

       On the other hand, if the local kids come up to your window to peer in, they get blocked too... OK, I've talked myself into it. Plus vote.
lurch, May 18 2009

       I think mercury thermometers work because the large reservoir is enclosed in fairly thin glass, to allow thermal coupling, and the small vertical tube is surrounded by thick glass, so as to avoid dimensional change.   

       The large surface area of your window would need some pretty strong/thick glass to avoid expansion along the thin (thickness) axis. This might also alleviate [lurch]'s concern.   

       I like the strong mirror effect of using Hg, good for infrared (heat) reflection, so would be somewhat self-regulating. +
csea, May 19 2009

       Please, paragraph break this thing so that I can read it. Thank you.
normzone, May 19 2009

       Lens placed at a variable distance from the reservoir bulbs could give a heat control factor for speeding up the closing of the screen. Heat sinks at bulbs in the top of the window might help with cooling.   

       Like lurch implied, a manual knob to a mercurial fluid syringe type system would give the best control.
wjt, May 19 2009

       I can read it now - thank you very much.   

       And I like it - as a theoretical idea. In reality, this much mercury in the world would not be a good thing.
normzone, May 19 2009

       Yay! This is a brilliant idea. People are really wussy about mercury, though. When I was at school, we had special safe mercury that we were allowed to play with in blobs - it was great fun. Alas, all mercury these days seems to have become dangerous.   

       Maybe a different material could be used, but mercury would be cutest.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2009

       To hell with the health concerns.   

       This is an awesome idea. I think you might need to design the vacuum cavity with some reinforcements, (like an inflatable pool-raft), to keep the glass from bowing in on itself in the middle.   

       //special safe mercury// Could that have been gallium, [MB]? Or are you being sarcastic (and really old)?
MikeD, May 20 2009

       I must have gone to the same school as [MB]. (Although I know full well we were a good half dozen kilomiles apart...)   

       The other students in the chem lab just got to play with the mercury on the desk. As Lab Assistant, I got to boil up some mercury in a beaker of nitric acid - far more exciting! Particularly when you find that particular mix (Millon's reagent) becomes extremely exothermic (the manual failed to mention this) and it was a bit of a surprise to have the beaker boil over so enthusiastically even after the bunsen burner was turned off.   

       I also found that said spilled chemical will reduce cotton - such as that found in denim trousers - to a red powder.   

       But in spite of my exposure, I don't think I have more than maybe a third of the symptoms listed in the link.
lurch, May 20 2009

       This is a simple and elegant idea. Usually the best kind. Electromagnetic radiation comes through a window, but as it increases the temperature inside the home, the small % absorbed in the window also increases, heating up a repository of mercury in the base, expanding to fill the tiny, possibly artistic, hollowed out space between the two panes. Genuis! But than ... like most "simple and elegant ideas", it may have some practical drawbacks...   

       Because of the latent heat capacity of glass (mostly because of silicon), it could take a while before the heat of the day finally(!) raises the mercury to block the light; and conversely at night. What I'm saying is that because of the 'hangover-effect', the window might remain too transparent in the early day/too opaque in the early night. And me, being an werewolf (nocturnal: probably from playing with too much Hg as a kid), might just be driven crazy(er) by not knowing on which side of the planet the sun was on.   

       Is there a simple built-in clock mechanic we could add to this same solar-powered window dynamic?
Speed Razor, May 20 2009

       Hmm - I remember playing with mercury at home when I was young (from a broken thermometer). Probably explains something. Also there's the mercury fountain (by Miro) in Barcelona - quite a shock when you realise it's not water...
hippo, May 20 2009

       I think we had [MB]'s safe mercury too - we used to float iron weights on it, and grow interesting crystals on aluminium with it. Also great for putting in an open annular trough, and making a river of it by putting it in a magnetic field and passing a current through it.   

       I seem to remember hydrogen and sodium being a lot safer back then too. I'm pretty sure Avagadro's so-called constant must've been smaller back then too, 'cos ten molar acids were handled by teenagers who didn't wear goggles or hard-hats. Anyway, enough of my rambling [+]
coprocephalous, May 20 2009

       I remember spilling concentrated Hydrochloric acid all over the school lab bench once. To save the bench, I quickly poured concentrated Sodium Hydroxide on the bench as well.
hippo, May 20 2009

       Good thinking [hippo]
coprocephalous, May 20 2009

       Amazing [hippo], [MaxwellBuchanon], [coprocephalous]. Nowadays, it's almost politically incorrect to let a child even play on a swing set, let alone fun chemicals like HCl and NaHO. Sad day...   

       I think I was raised in the middle generation: not quite the "hey, it's cool to gargle mercury" mindset, but also not quite the "is Suzy roller-blading while chewing gum? Let's sue!", but still lots of annoying ridiculous untrue axioms. (To wit: I'm pretty sure that I'm not blind). But I, like any other precocious teenager, messed around with those (and other) chemicals. I learned my lesson. Ok, what kid Didn't accidentally blow the the lids off of the dumpster with their solid rocket fuel? Or, who knew that you shouldn't pour a solution of anhydrous CH3-O-CH3 and nitroglycerin on the basement floor? Okay ... so I never quite got my hearing back, but ... let boys be boys.
Speed Razor, May 20 2009

       //Ok, what kid Didn't accidentally blow the the lids off of the dumpster with their solid rocket fuel//
I did it deliberately.
coprocephalous, May 20 2009

       //I remember spilling concentrated Hydrochloric acid all over the school lab bench once.// If you want to win a bet and have access to concentrated (18M) hydrochloric acid, bet someone you can hold your bare hand in a beaker of it for thirty seconds. There's no trick to it - even conc. HCl just isn't particularly aggressive (stings if you've got a cut, though).   

       You can do the same with sulphuric acid, the only difference being that you'll lose your hand.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2009

       This is very similar to Worldgineer's Mercury House, and has the same problems. One is that the pressure on the windows is enormous.   

       To quote pluterday: "Mercury is heavy stuff. If you’ve got a six-foot tall window, the pressure differential between the top and bottom is going to be about 35 psi. And if the window is two feet wide, the total force separating the panes is at least 30 thousand pounds. That’s a lot to ask of window glass, isn't it?"   

       The vacuum by itself is a problem, producing a 25,000 pound load on a 6x2' window. You could eliminate the problem by using an array of narrow tubes of mercury in a sheet of glass, instead of a sheet of mercury.
ldischler, May 20 2009

       You don't need a vacuum.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2009

       I agree, at this scale a simple vent will do. If the volume change of Hg is too small then we can always use another medium for the displacement (wax) and a reservoir for the displaced gas. The actual cavity need only be a fraction of a millimeter thick.
WcW, May 20 2009

       Double pane glass. Make a groove in the rear pane, and just above it, a very narrow gap between the two panes. In the open mode, it will appear to be silver wires running across the window; then, as the temperature rises, the mercury intrudes into the gap. There wouldn't be a very long distance between grooves, so the mercury wouldn't have to rise very high.
lurch, May 20 2009


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