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Old 09-16-1999, 01:45 PM
Inky Inky is offline
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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).

Old 09-16-1999, 02:01 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
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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
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Old 09-16-1999, 02:04 PM
RTA RTA is offline
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The mysterious chemical was food coloring in homogenous dihydrogen oxide suspension.
Old 09-16-1999, 02:04 PM
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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.
Old 09-16-1999, 04:19 PM
eddieTheK eddieTheK is offline
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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.

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.
Old 09-16-1999, 05:38 PM
Alphagene Alphagene is offline
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The fluid is most likely methylene chloride.
Old 09-16-1999, 05:41 PM
Inky Inky is offline
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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.
Old 09-16-1999, 06:04 PM
Babar714 Babar714 is offline
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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.
Old 09-16-1999, 11:11 PM
JillGat JillGat is offline
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From the "seventies"? Hell, I remember them from the early sixties at least (I won't admit to any further back than that).
Old 09-16-1999, 11:24 PM
Whammo Whammo is offline
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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
Old 09-17-1999, 12:00 AM
awldune awldune is offline
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"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.
Old 10-09-1999, 02:55 PM
Creepy_Girl Creepy_Girl is offline
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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
Old 10-09-1999, 03:10 PM
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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!
Old 10-09-1999, 03:27 PM
voguevixen voguevixen is offline
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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.
Old 10-09-1999, 05:05 PM
Louie Louie is offline
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Are you all talking about this...

An evil person is someone that knows how to escape a deserved punishment. A good person is someone that accepts other's punishments.
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Old 10-10-1999, 04:42 AM
Nickrz Nickrz is offline
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Louie deserves the Straight Dope "One Animated Gif is Worth a Thousand Words" award.
Old 10-11-1999, 03:47 AM
NanoByte NanoByte is offline
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Location: Berkeley, CA, US
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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. . .



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