We couldn’t resist looking at a new development in technology: the water clock.

 Now, the first water clocks date back at least 4,000 years ago, and believe it or not, they worked pretty well. The slow drip, drip, drip of water from a large container into a smaller one caused a wood or cork float to gradually rise along with the water level. The rate of rise was surprisingly constant, and by making marks along the side of the container, the time could be read as the float rose to those marks.

water clock

 The brand new water clock we just got was from Bedol International, and it’s really an electric clock. But it does run on water – with a dash of salt. What it looks like is a translucent blue ball with a digital clock face on one side. There’s a stopper on top and when you pull that out, there’s an opening for filling the ball with water. Add a little salt and you’re off and running – on the clock, so to speak.

 Of course what we’ve really done is create a battery, much like the one invented by Alessandro Volta, in Como, Italy, in 1800. Two strips of dissimilar metals, usually, copper and zinc, or copper and tin, are inside the blue plastic ball of our water clock, and the salt water around them conducts electricity. The passage of electrons between the two strips of metal generates a tiny electric charge, enough to run a small digital clock. Ecco! as we would say in Italian: here we have it.

 The Bedol water clock retails for $16, from

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