Insatiable Birdies of the Second Kind

A new variant of the famous ‘Drinking Bird’ has been developed at Kent State University, Ohio, US. But first, some background on the the ‘Drinking Bird’ a.k.a. the ‘Insatiable Birdie’ …

A version [* see note below] of the ‘novelty device’ first received a US patent in 1946, inspiring many to endeavour to explain how it works. Here’s a recent examination from professor Manuel Fiolhais and colleagues of the Centre for Computational Physics at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. See: J. Güémez; R. Valiente; C. Fiolhais; M. Fiolhais (December 2003). ‘Experiments with the drinking bird’. American Journal of Physics 71 (12):

Shortly afterwards, in 2004, a new variation of the birdie was presented by researchers Nadine Abraham and Peter Palffy-Muhoray of the Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University, Ohio.

New-Driniking-BirdExperiments with our prototype indicate that, with an adequate water supply, such a dunking bird is able to do work indefinitely. Our device is slower than dunking birds of the first kind, with a period of hours rather than seconds. It nonetheless demonstrates the possibility of extracting mechanical work from water in an environment where the relative humidity is less than 100% without using a heat engine.”

See: ‘A dunking bird of the second kind’ American Journal of Physics, Feb. 2004.

* Note: It seems that previous embodiments of the Drinking Bird were around at least 20 years before the US patent was granted. Einstein himself having encountered one, it’s said, in Shanghai circa 1920. [source]

EXTRA: A premium giclée reprint birdie cartoon (from The New Yorker, by Michael Shaw) produced on thick (310 gsm), textured watercolor paper made from alpha cellulous [sic] wood pulp that is acid free is available here, $139.


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