Thermal image video shows how dippy birds work


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This is certainly not wrong for the device described, however the ones I used to see (and owned) were simpler and did not require actually dipping into water. It was all done with the liquid rebalancing itself in the tube.

I used to have one on my desk where it could hit the Enter key often enough so it would appear I was working. I wasn’t goofing off (much), but our IT dept had a ridiculously short timeout period on our terminals.


Y’know, I wasn’t going to post this, but…


For a modern computer with an optical mouse, another workaround to a short screen lock time is to find a cheap analog clock with a sweep second hand. Place the mouse over the glass of the face such that the LED light shines onto the number 6.

Even a wristwatch will do in a pinch, just needs to be analog, not digital.


Stopped watching as soon as they got to PV=nRT.
I knew I was in over my head.


Fascinating. It makes me wonder how the thing was invented in the first place. How did the happy mutant who made the first one think of it?


on the contrary – i sort of collect these. they’ve been a favorite of mine since my dad brought me one back from a trip when i was a kid. my long-standing dream for burning man is to make a gigantic one. i’m surprised it hasn’t been done yet, but i suspect it’s because the chemical inside is either expensive or hard to get in large quantities (or both).


I feel duty-bound to point out the extreme danger of this so-called toy.


Apparently the patent suggested using alcohol, among other things that are less palatable. It probably wouldn’t be that bad.


Dichloromethane, aka methylene chloride, is the base for traditional furniture strippers. It is an excellent solvent for many organics, which is why our protocol for washing sample bottles when I worked for the US EPA included a final rinse with the stuff. Our hazardous spills people loaned me a hazard materials/ space suit, which I used to wear while rinsing the bottles outside in the parking lot of the suburban Cleveland shopping mall where the Ohio district office was located. Drivers passing by while hunting for a parking spot used to turn and stare at me for some reason.

I would be rather surprised if the drinking birds imported from China contained DCM instead of alcohol, since it would be harder to get permission to ship.


I have one of these, given to me by a publisher’s rep. And I was startled one day to see it start dipping on its own. I eventually figured out it was due to the fan exhaust from my laptop. But that led to a little more research, and the discovery of a lovely little 2003 paper from American Journal of Physics.

An even older one that you’ll have ti visit the library for (remember those?)

And a beautiful design for one you can build yourself out of soda straws that is NOT a heat engine. It runs on chemical potential.

I thereafter gave it as a final exam problem in a thermal physics class. It has a very peculiar PV diagram.


It has a [long history] (, with no single inventor:


What is the energy source that keeps it from being a perpetual motion machine? Perhaps you’re thinking of a hand boiler?


Oh, so you do read the comments section!


And holds grudges!


This…deathy bird.


They… they don’t actually drink the water? =o(

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