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Hydraulic Clock

Hydraulic ClockIn the fast-moving world where new products launch every day, things look obscure and understanding technology behind it looks out of reach and complex.

Take an example of a digital clock, we all use them but never bothered about how they work and technology used in building them.

Today we are going to discuss a project which is not only interesting but has its own significance in a journey of innovations. It will help students learn the basics of hydraulics and fluid mechanics.

I have seen this project title at one education site and find it interesting enough to discuss it with you.

What is the Hydraulic clock?

It is a water clock also known as "clepsydra" in greek means water. Water is the only source of energy other than gravity which keeps this clock moving.

What is the oldest Water Clock?

According to my knowledge first, the hydraulic clock was built by Chinese scientist Yi Xing in 1088 C.E. These clocks are one of the first innovations when it comes to measurement of time and dated back to the 16th century based on the evidence of around that period in Athens,  Greece.

How it works?

 It works on the concept of Hydraulics and often powered by Gravity. Its accuracy depends upon the inflow and outflow of water. Though it seems simple to make it accurate is a mammoth task. There are two mechanisms:

  • Water Outflow: In this method, we fill the transparent container with water and allows it to leak slowly. There are many ways to measure the time but the simplest way is to draw measurement marks and as per the water level, we can tell the time. 
  • Water Inflow: This is the opposite of Water Outflow and in this method instead of getting water out, we put a source of water at the top of the container and fill it slowly. And as water starts to fill in, we can measure the time the same way as we did with the Water outflow method.  

Do we still use it?

No, with today's standards, we can't trust the accuracy of these clocks. So these clocks are replaced by pendulum clocks and now we have started to use much advanced digital clocks and mobile phones which are very specific and reliable.

Are there any other alternatives?

Yes, they do, if you don't want to use water as its power source you can use human power and gravity together to construct your own mechanical clock. The concept of this clock would remain the same as the only thing changed is that now you need to pull up some mass for gravity to attract in a controlled manner. Moreover, you need to pull this mass up whenever it gets grounded by gravitational force.

What this mechanism called?

It is known as escapement which according to Wikipedia is a device in mechanical powered clocks that transfers energy to the timekeeping element and allows the number of its oscillations to be counted. If you want you can Read More about escapement here

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