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Unusual Clocks

Clocks can be made from almost any item that is regular in its oscillation and that oscillation can somehow be harnessed. Water clocks, for example were popular in the Ancient and Medieval worlds (they called them a clepsydra), but they are still put to ingenious uses today. The water clock at the children's museum in Indianapolis is a perfect example.

In 1808 William Congreve patented a rolling ball clock. This clock relied on a tilting table and a rolling ball to create its oscillation. The idea was to liberate, as much as possible, the oscillator from the escapement.

Clocks can also be powered by different mechanisms. The Atmos clock was developed in 1928 by J. L. Reuter and relied on temperature changes in the atmosphere to set up changes in pressure of a gas housed in a chamber shaped like an accordion. As the gas expanded or contracted, it would move a mechanism which wound the clock. The clock's oscillator was a pendulum.

Digital clocks use electricity as their source of power, but electricity can come from a source as unlikely as the common potato. Two pairs of copper-zinc electrodes inserted in each potato provide a voltaic battery that will work as long as the potatoes stay moist. Actually any wet fruit or vegetable will do.

Circadian clocks are self-sustaining bio-chemical oscillators that actually regulate the lives of living things. A circadian clock in a sunflower tells the sunflower when to open and close. Although circadian clocks are not fully understood, much of the natural world is regulated by their rhythms.

Keeping track of time is one of the most important tools humans have in regulating their lives and achieving their goals in workaday world. As humans have advanced technologically, they have used the mastery of time-keeping devices to continue to advance science and technology, for the most part, making the world a better place to live.

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