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Oxford Electric Bell ― It's Has Been Running Almost Continuously For Over 180 years

Oxford Electric Bell ― It's Has Been Running Almost Continuously For Over 180 years

The Oxford Electric Bell or Clarendon Dry Pile is an experimental electric bell ringing almost continuously for 180 years and is currently located in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University. It's powered by a "dry pile," which is one of the first electrical batteries. 

Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they fear that opening the bell would ruin the experiment to see how long it will last.

The bell did not necessarily begin as an experiment. It was developed by Watkin and Hill, a London instrument-making firm, and bought by Oxford physics professor Robert Walker, who continued to allow it to ring. He also wrote 'Set up in 1840' as a reminder on a small card and placed it with the device.

The experiment consists of two brass bells, each charged by a dry pile covered in sulfur with silver disks, zinc, and mysterious paste inside. This set-up keeps the minimum amount of humidity needed for the electrolyte to work. 

A small brass ball (clapper), approximately 4 mm in diameter, is suspended between the pile, which alternately rings the bells due to electrostatic force. As the brass ball hits one of the bells, the corresponding dry Pile battery releases a small charge, thus electrostatically repelling the clapper, causing it to be attracted to the opposite bell. This process creates what is called the "ever ringing bell." 

There are theories that the bell might have been made as early as 1825. The Bell has produced more than 10 billion rings since 1840 and holds the Guinness World Record as the "world's most durable battery."

The device is dependent on electrostatic laws to keep it going. Thus, while high voltage is needed to create motion, the sphere ball carries only a small amount of electricity from one bell to the other, which is why the batteries have been able to last since the apparatus was set up.

Despite the small amount of power needed to achieve this, it's still impressive, as no other battery has been able to power anything for so long. Even when not in use, Batteries will slowly discharge, and most of them will have completely drained themselves within a few decades.

Robert Walker died in 1865, but the Electric Bell is still ringing.

2 Responses to "Oxford Electric Bell ― It's Has Been Running Almost Continuously For Over 180 years"

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