The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-16-1999, 01:45 PM
Inky Inky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Anybody else remember those toy "drinking" birds from the seventies? They were glass with a long neck and a little pot belly filled with a mysterious red or green chemical. They were also rakishly bedecked in a nifty top hat (presumibly to show that they were prepared for a night out on the town) and when you placed them in front of a glass of water the things would bob up and down "drinking" for weeks on end.

Granted I was only mere slip of an Inky at the time, but I didtinctly remember these things. Any idea what the chemical was and how they worked (I've lost sleep wondering about such things).

Inky.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 09-16-1999, 02:01 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 9,982
The chemical was coloured water. They worked after you wet their heads and started them tipping. Evaporation of the water from their porous heads would create a partial vaccuum which would pull the coloured water from the "belly" up the tube of their "necks." This changed their centre of balance and gave the extra kick needed to tip further. Eventually the amount of water in the tube lowered the level in the belly. The bottom of the tube would break the surface, air would be introduced into the tube, the coloured water would gurgle back into the belly, and the process would begin again. If you can picture what I mean.


------------------
Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-16-1999, 02:04 PM
RTA RTA is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
The mysterious chemical was food coloring in homogenous dihydrogen oxide suspension.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-16-1999, 02:04 PM
Guest
 
They're not gone, either, Inky. I'm sure you can get such things from either the Johnson Smith Company or perhaps The Anatomical Chart Company.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-16-1999, 04:19 PM
eddieTheK eddieTheK is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
No, they're not gone, and as I sit wasting my boss's time, my drinking bird is happily slurping out of a Pyrex beaker.

Dr. Fidelius has the evaporation part right, but the liquid inside is certainly NOT water (or dihydrogenated oxyacetylene, whatever). If I lovingly cup my drinking birds' lower bulb in the palm of my hand, allowing a good transfer of heat, the red liquid inside will force its way up the tube, until ALL the liquid is out of the bulb. It seems to defy gravity, just a column of red liquid gurgling as it tries to run back out into the bulb. Try this at home with water. What happens? Pretty boring, huh?

My bet for the liquid is Freon (TM) or something like it for the ozone-friendly '90's.

WARNING: PHYSICS LESSON AHEAD!
My version of How It Works: The birds wet head is cooler than his tail (water evaporation). The non-liquid-filled parts of the bird are filled with the highly volitile red liquid (Freon?) in its gaseous phase. The cool gas at the top shrinks (ideal gas law) and the system tries to equilibrate pressure by forcing liquid up the tube. Eventually, as the good Dr. says, the bird goes off balance and the liquid and gas are allowed to equilibrate physically by changing places.

The whole thing is a heat engine with external water as the main source of heat differential. Water inside the system won't work.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-16-1999, 05:38 PM
Alphagene Alphagene is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,744
http://www.phy.ncku.edu.tw/mirrors/p...ippy_bird.html

The fluid is most likely methylene chloride.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-16-1999, 05:41 PM
Inky Inky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Eddie the K was right, the mystery liquid is in fact freon 11 and they are still available from the good folks at Edmond Scientific (while supplies last!) $7.99.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-16-1999, 06:04 PM
Babar714 Babar714 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
It's the same stuff (freon?) in those things you hold in your hand and the stuff flows up a little spiral tube. The stuff is very sensative to heat. The cup of water is cool, and cools the liquid, forcing it down into the bird's belly. When the bird stands upright, the room temp. heats it back up, flows into the head, makes it top heavy, and the bird bows, and the water makes it cool again.

really quite nifty.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-16-1999, 11:11 PM
JillGat JillGat is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 3,859
From the "seventies"? Hell, I remember them from the early sixties at least (I won't admit to any further back than that).
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-16-1999, 11:24 PM
Whammo Whammo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
check out the online auctions... I have seen them at both yahoo and ebay for 9.99... and how they work?

thermal dynamics my friend!!!!!! I'll let the others explain.... you see... I am just way to busy.. LOL

------------------
The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I'm left with is the memory of having learned
something very wise that I can't quite remember. -George Carlin
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-17-1999, 12:00 AM
awldune awldune is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
"IT'S DRINKING THE WATER! This will make a million dollars! Heh heh heh... it's coming back for more..."

Never let an opportunity to quote the Simpsons pass.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-09-1999, 02:55 PM
Creepy_Girl Creepy_Girl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
I'd like to take a moment to mention that whatever that stuff inside the dippy birds is it stains miserably. I know from experience.

------------------
Creepy Girl
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-09-1999, 03:10 PM
Guest
 
Oh yes,I remember them fondly. My dad went in for stuff like that. Especially the one of an outhouse,where you put a coin in, and the guy turns around and pees on you!
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-09-1999, 03:27 PM
voguevixen voguevixen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
awldune -- don't forget the episode where Homer delegated the task to the bird of repeatedly typing "Y" so he could take a much needed break from his telecommuting job.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10-09-1999, 05:05 PM
Louie Louie is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Are you all talking about this...

http://n64media.ign.com/media/news/i...inkingbird.gif

------------------
An evil person is someone that knows how to escape a deserved punishment. A good person is someone that accepts other's punishments.
Fun with HTML (tutoral)
Give someone an F.U.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-10-1999, 04:42 AM
Nickrz Nickrz is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Wheaton IL USA
Posts: 2,034
Louie deserves the Straight Dope "One Animated Gif is Worth a Thousand Words" award.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-11-1999, 03:47 AM
NanoByte NanoByte is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
JillGat is right. I first recall those birds from at least that far back, maybe from the '50s.

Guess Nickerz has decided that animated GIF isn't copyrighted (which no doubt it isn't). But any image I put up. . .

Ray
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:57 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.