TIL there is a battery powered bell in Oxford University that was set up in 1840 and has been ringing ever since. It has rung around 10 billion times. Nobody is certain what the batteries are made of, opening them would ruin the experiment of how long the bell may ring.

TIL there is a battery powered bell in Oxford University that was set up in 1840 and has been ringing ever since. It has rung around 10 billion times. Nobody is certain what the batteries are made of, opening them would ruin the experiment of how long the bell may ring.


The risk is someone lifts it up and there is a thin copper wire connected to the mains underneath


Lifting the item up, reveal a Qi compatible wireless charging pad.


Now would that mean someone tampered with the experiment, or was it setup by a time traveler?






Alien magnets...checkmate earthlings


"There is no way to know for certain it *wasn't* aliens." -Ancient Aliens people👽




Today it could almost be usable to have an antenna to pick up background radiowaves and translate that into power


That exists, it's a crystal radio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_radio


I used to make those as a kid in the early 80s. Really nice sets from Radio Shack, they were called Heathkits I think. I had to solder parts and whatnot which was cool. Learning to solder as an 8 year old turned out to be a handy long term skill.


RIP in peace RadioShack.


Right? As a lifelong tinkerer, now I have to order all my random electrical bits from reputable ebay and ali-baba vendors, and sometimes that shipping is looooong just to find out it was not quite right or that I have changed my mind/design by the time it finally gets to me :(


I just don't understand how they didn't jump on the maker craze and lean into 3d printing and tinkering, using their locations to do group classes like what craft and hobby stores do. Instead, they bet it all on mediocrere, overpriced phones and aggressively pushing warranties on 'batteries'. What could have been. =(


RadioShack right before they went under was a weird place. In the front, it was bright with all the phones and gadgets, and then to the rear, it was almost like you were entering a dungeon with dim lighting and shelves full of electronics. The people who came in almost never mixed either. They were going to get a phone, or they were going right to the back. In the end, it couldn't survive as either and just died. Sad, really.


It's very sad IMO. There was another electronics shop for enthusiasts and HAMs where I lived in Atlanta that closed a few years ago. There is nothing like going into a store with that familiar "electronic parts" smell and chatting with some old guy that knows the answer to every question you ask, while browsing and discovering a bunch of parts you've never seen before. Buying stuff online is convenient but it's just not the same experience.


I think you're thinking of the experimenters kits, Heathkits were something else. Both were pretty awesome, though.


I did a lot of heathkits as a kid. My first alarm clock was one, I just can't remember if the crystal radio was a heathkit or some other kit. I've noticed a few things coming out of Radio Shack or whoever owns them that are along similar lines recently, Instrgram ads and whatnot. Lego sets for soldering iron owners is how I would put it. I have two youngins that I would like to teach electronics to so I've been looking for something similar that isn't overly complex. Don't need apps or anything over the top. Just a bag of parts, a few boards to solder them on to, and a case to put the finished boards into.


We built these in high school, and it turns out cyclone fence is a god tier antenna.


Funny here in south lousiana, we call it a hurricane fence.


Is this using the same concept than Nikola Tesla's "wireless unlimited energy"?


Yes and no, as it was more of a confluence of multiple ideas. His unlimited wireless energy referred to two parts. 1, unlimited, which simply meant always there and always on. He did have patents for capturing latent electrical power, but it was very low voltage for number 2.. 2, wireless. This was his baby. I actually live a few miles from where he did the experiment, and right next to the power station he blew up. But his goal was using high frequency electromagnetic radiation (Radio is low frequency), to power light bulbs and other electronics. His idea was that you could create "Air space" of free electricity for both homes, and planes/blimps flying overhead. Unlimited wireless electricity was an idea that these products did not *consume* a direct line so to speak, but captured their power from the electromagnetic fields created. You could then chain these power plants across a larger area to create a larger charged airspace. Basically, a neon bulb enters the EM zone, and it magically turns on.


What did he do with all the hats? It seems like he must generated a lot of trash.


Gave them to all the Angier’s of course.


This comment made me laugh out loud, great movie.


The problem with the latter is the tremendous amount of waste it would cause.


Tesla was building a wireless energy *distributor*. Common misconception. It would *receive* power the same way - connected to a power plant - but it would *distribute* that power wirelessly. This is difficult, but feasible - the problem is the power loss during conversion and distribution, and most designs would require line-of-sight between repeaters to transmit the signal, but in *theory* it can work, with a lot of technical details that would need to be worked out. The opposite is a lot more difficult. A crystal radio, which is able to use the power of the radio waves themselves to power the radio, produces an exceedingly simple, relatively weak signal that can't amplify the sound. For very, very low-power applications, this will work. But the reality of having a wireless power *generator* - that is, something that can receive "free" ambient energy from the outside and generate enough power to power homes is virtually inconceivable. Solar and wind power are the closest we're likely to come to something like that.


He also thought there was effectively a resonant electromagnetic frequency for the Earth. So he theorized that by introducing a certain excitation signal and the Earth would "ring like a bell" electromagnetically. Thus it wasn't that he believed in an unlimited energy source, just that there was a way to get a lot more energy than it took to start the process.


The earth has a magnetosphere so I see how that makes sense, but it's generated in much the same way that we generate electricity right? Two metals moving relative to each other through a magnetic field? We just need to get a conductor to the center of the earth 😂


I thought Tesla was just wireless, not unlimited




We're talking about real unlimited here. As in, the bell will not sound dimmer after the first 480 bells of the month.


I've still got that old Verizon unlimited, been grandfathered in for years now. I have to do a trick when i update phones by using my upgrade on an added line, then switching the number with my main line and cancelling the added line 24hrs later. Still working though.


Wireless and unlimited to most users. It needed to be provided. I would definitely suspect that 10 Billion rings = battery is somehow being charged. It might not even run off a battery anymore, it might be a capacitor in there keeps recharging without the battery.


Or an immortal hamster on a wheel.


You'll be free one day, Nibbles


No. He won't. He was put there for a reason and we both know it.


Hes supposed to die on that wheel so that others can become the best versions of themselves.




In nōmine Big et Blue et Ballz Sānctī


That hamsters name. Loki.


The Hamsters Who Walk Away from Omelas


But eventually the snail will find him and make it's move


I read this and the parent post in John Oliver’s voice.


Clearly the most reasonable answer here


Used Monkey claw to wish for immortality. Became a hamster trapped inside an experiment.


Monkey claw. It's like a Monkey's Paw, but the item hates you with a passion and makes the consequences personal.


So. . . a monkey's paw?


Poor Kanbaru.


Hamsters actually are immortal, just fake their deaths every two to three years so as not to arouse suspicion.


This is the most wonderful case of a username checking out that I’ve ever stumbled across.


Didn't Nokia dink around with a phone that could charge its battery (very slowly) using radio waves?


[According to the internet, Apple briefly tested quick charging your phone](https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/spurious-charge-2/) >!in the microwave!<


No need to include the word "almost", such things have been done. A crystal radio is a receiver that operates by harvesting the power in the radio signal.


That’d be a pretty impressive con set up for 1840.


That's what a crystal radio does: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_radio?wprov=sfla1


simple way to test that, turn off the main power, if it was a battery woulsn't matter


Exactly, I'm sure there has been plenty of power cuts during this time period


I would hazard the guess that in 1840 they didn't have power to even be cut.


It's on a UPS and the building has a diesel generator backup


Don't tell the syfy channel, this is enough for them to do a whole new victorian magic inspired series


History channel will tie Hitler and Aliens into it as well.


What would hitters army have done with this terrifying new energy source? Actually Hitler was interested in the occult and sent out people looking for alien sites to find new technology for the war. This is the premise of my new weekly crime drama set in 1950s London.


I don't think Hitler was much of an active player by 1950...


You don't watch a lot of terrible syfy originals do you?


I do not.


Probably for the better.


It's MechaHitler


From the MOON!


Clearly you are unfamiliar with our secret alien overlord's moustache based time war. They abducted Hitler in the moment before his death to use his almighty tache against their enemies, and then returned him two years later to live out his life as an Argentinian male prostitute.


Little known fact hitler faked his death and went to mexico to get in on the ground floor of the el polo loco franchise.




Turns out it ran on hateful spite the whole time. Just like Hitler.


I thought he ran on meth and syphelis fever dreams?


And then cancel it after the first season.


Only if it’s really good the shitty ones get like 80 seasons


That’s a big if…..on a show that’s based off of an old, battery powered, ringing bell.


It would be like that movie where the assassins got their orders from looking at a piece of cloth, just this time it would be deciphering the bell.


Warehouse 12


**It's important for people to understand that this is NOT a source of free unlimited energy that would solve the world's energy problems. Stopping and dissecting this would NOT revolutionize the world.** Someone posted a video link below. "Ringing" is a bit of an exaggeration - the thing barely moves, like a millimeter maybe. The main reasons it's impressive is that it shows how little of an electrical charge can actually move something, even if only ever so slightly, and that a battery could hold a charge for this long.


Was going to call slight bullshit on that 10 billion number as that would be ringing about twice a second the whole damn time, but in looking at the wiki its running at about 2 hertz, so fair enough the math checks out.




TIL why some languages call batteries “piles.”


My dog makes about 2-3 batteries per day. We go through so many bags.


How many volts does your dog's pile generate? Do you use a zinc/copper cathode/anode? Science needs to know!


Has he been charged?


Dude. Thank you. That's so cool. In Portuguese it's pilha!


At least in Argentina, we use "pila" for small batteries like AA or AAA and "batería" for larger ones like the 9V one or car batteries.


what its mean 2 hertz here?


Twice per second.


2 Fast 2 Hertz


Big if true.


I've seen a video of that, thats completely possible considering the gap


Oh wow I didn't think to mind the gap


Two cycles per second.


Aye that rings a bell


this pun is so silly it hertz


hertz is the unit of measurements of cycles per second. so 2 hertz = 2 cycles per second [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertz](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertz) So, when you have a computer that is running at 1.5 gigahertz it's operating at 1.5 \*billion\* cycles (or operations) per second EDIT: to clarify, when you have a computer that is running at 1.5 gigahertz, the clock that the CPU uses to time itself is ticking 1.5 billion times per second, and that is basically (but not exactly) how many operations it is completing per second. For everyday discussion of a CPU, it's close enough


Just to be picky, operations can take more than one tick, just the *clock* is running at that speed. I'm very much out of the loop on modern processors though, so I might be full of shit.


You are still right. That’s why nowadays Instructions Per Clock or IPC is more meaningful comparison than clock speed. That’s why AMD is kicking Intel arse because they have better IPC with better architecture.


Yes, some operations take multiple cycles, but there are parallel pipelines on each core, and multi-core CPUs have been the norm for >10 years now. So, the overall average expectation is that a modern CPU will perform multiple instructions per clock cycle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructions\_per\_cycle


You're correct not all CPUs complete every instruction in a single cycle. But depending on the context of the conversation "operation" could be each of the steps going inside the module conducting the multi-cycle instructions or as a synonym for instruction.


Deuces on the seccy


'Hertz' (after [Heinrich Hertz](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Hertz)) is the unit of frequency, or how many times something happens a second. 2 hertz means that the clapper is striking the bell twice a second. The frequency of mains electricity in North America is 60 hertz - that means that the voltage at the wall socket is cycling from zero, to +120 volts, then passing through zero to -120 volts, then rising up to zero again, 60 times a second.


Wait, is there some other meaning of hertz I'm unaware of?


There is that car rental place. Also it might some edgy way of spelling ‘hurts’. :shrug:


Ever had a hertz donut?


I find it hard to believe that the parts that continually contact each other metal to metal have not worn down yet...


10 billion is a technicality, technically.


it says it stops when the humidity is high


Which makes sense. 1 billion seconds is about 31 years, which means that something running at 2 hz will hit 1 billion in half that time. Let’s round down for safety and and say that it takes 16 years to hit one billion. Well, it’s been 181 years since 1840, and if we divide by 16, that comes out to 11.3 billion. So 10 billion seems pretty safe.


Or, someone is just refilling the tank with electrolytes when no one is looking.


It's got what batteries crave


But will it mutilate my thirst?


Go away! Baitin'!




Cleaner comes in every Thursday and puts new batteries in.


Yeah but how has the cleaner managed to live that long




What grid did they plug it into in 1840?


The square one.


Not sure that works on a dry pile, which is what those batteries are.


Powered by demons. Opening causes a Pandora's Box effect


"For God's sake, let whoever that is in" - every Oxford student who's heard that bell.


It rings but inaudibly. How politely British of them.


Ah, the FedEx ring.


It sits ~~in a vacuum~~ inside two Bell jars, ~~which serves two purposes, removing air resistance and~~ removing the sound :) Edit: /u/RedditZamak quite rightly corrected my mistake, thanks.


The fact that someone in 1840 managed to make such a perfect hermetic seal that it hasn't leaked in 180 years is almost as impressive as the battery itself, if not more.


For hard surfaces, lapping has been done in conjunction with surface grinding and polishing for a long while. And most definitely glass blowing has existed for centuries. I don't think getting a seal around an assembly (even with power through the seal) would have been too difficult. Impressive sure, but a bit less so when you consider the technology and manufacturing capabilities of the time.


See, these are the time periods where I'll go back in time thinking I have some advanced knowledge but I'm still just a dumbass.


*"Now if I could only remember when the stock market was invented, and how exactly it works, I could invest in it and make a ton of money!"*


*Walks into old-timey general store* "Garcon! Let me get uhh... naked calls on Apple, expiry 'bout two hunnit years from now" "Son, were you kicked by a horse?"


Must be the work of time travellers.


Don't be a moron. Obviously aliens.


Psh, you’d better see a Doctor if you don’t believe in time traveling aliens.




What’s really fucking bananas is that the article says the bell may have been constructed in 1825. That’s within John Adams’ and Thomas Jefferson’s lifetimes. Edit: Ok, I feel the need to clarify my point—I’m not marveling that something could be 180 years old; I’m marveling that this *something* is a goddamned *battery* that *still works*!


It's weird how time works. The town i grew up in, here in England, has houses dating back to 1500s, my school building was built in like 1760, with upgrades and stuff as was needed, but the original building is ancient. The school as an organization in itself is older than the declaration of independence.


I stayed in a BnB in England where the proprietor referred to the room addition as “the new wing.” It was added in the 1700s


And here I am thinking the house I'm living in is ancient cause it was built in 1916. To be fair, it *feels* ancient and was definitely not built to last much longer than it has.


> The difference between Americans and the British is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, and the British think 100 miles is a long way.


Reminds of the episode of the office where they visit Dwight's house and he points out a room and says it's the most recent addition, built in like 1800s.


Reminds me of an old saying: In America, 100 years is a long time. In England, 100 miles is a long distance.


I work as an auctioneer. I've held porcelain plates that are older than America. Porcelain! Whole plates, not a pile of shards! Those are more fragile than America, and still older. Not by much, mind you. It was made in 1763.


Half of my house was built in 1352 and windows didn’t exist outside of churches and monasteries then, obviously in England too. The new bit is only 570 years old. I once visited an historic village in America and they told me that I was wrong for saying my house was older than their 250 old house which was one of the oldest houses there.


Waiting for the Murakami/Twilight Zone twist where the batteries are empty because it was powered by the expectation that it would ring.


But you only discover that after having sex with either an older man/woman or looking into a chrysalis. In the backdrop are two moons.


Wouldn't the Murakami twist be that a cat is recharging the battery?


Obligatory. There's a tom Scott video on this: https://youtu.be/UtQGYz4f3YQ


He's become the xkcd of YouTube.


Who is xkcd?


Tom Scott of comic world!


Xkcd is a pretty good webcomic. The author was a former nasa employee, I’m pretty sure. I can’t remember if he was a programmer or mathematician or what. The meme is that there is an xkcd comic related to almost every topic so OP is saying that Tom Scott has a video relevant to almost everything.


He was a programmer for nasa


A rocket scientist who gave up his job to pursue his dream of drawing funny stickman art.


[You're part of today's lucky 10,000!](https://xkcd.com/1053/)


I was really hoping that video would have played some audio of the bell itself. Alas, I have blue bells.


Because of course there is


Oh, it's more like vibrating. I thought it would be a bigger swinging. Someone has to get close and check on this every day to record if it ever stops right? :p


Why wouldn't there be.


So when they open it and ask if anyone knows what it is they'll say "nah doesn't ring any bell" right?


They'll never open it, because whoever does will forever be known as a complete bell end.


*Pavlov shakes fist*


It rings twice per second at 2 hertz so if the dog salivates every time the bell rings that means the dog's been dead for at the very least 160 years


The key to its longevity is that it uses very, very little electricity. It does not contain the secret to super batteries or perpetual motion.


Don’t batteries slowly discharge on their own though? If I put a battery on a shelf and checked back 160 years later it would certainly be unusable right? Let alone if there was a constant albeit tiny draw on it.


Depends on the chemistry. Some have more self-draining than others. This is probably not your typical alkaline.


No, there's no liquid element. It's not an alkaline battery at all, but something called a "dry stack." It also generates very little electricity, but very little electricity is needed.


Dude went home for the weekend, forgot to turn off his alarm clock and than forgot to return to school. I think some relatives of him lived in my dorm in the 90s.


I had a roommate that would sit in the dorm playing Halo until like 4:00am then set his alarm for 6:00am and snooze it until after noon. After talking to him and getting nowhere, I started just getting out of bed and physically unplugging his alarm clock. Then he switched to his phone being his alarm. I hated that guy.


I had a roommate as well, only difference was that he was on Netflix until like 4-5 am everyday and he set his alarm for 6 because he had to pray in the morning. I don't think he ever got up at 6 in almost 2 years of knowing him.


Oh god that sounds traumatic


Spite. It runs off of spite.


So someone did an experiment to test how long a battery would last, but they didn't make note of what the battery was made of? So what's the point of doing the experiment in the first place? Something is off here.


It was in the 1800's. There may have been notes at the time.


And its Oxford...those notes are buried in a book in the subbasement of the library.


They were eventually found on display in the back of a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door that said "beware of the leopard." On the way to the sub-basements the lights went out, and so did the stairs.


To be destroyed on Thursday?


It was a school science experiment started more than 175 years ago. It's more amazing that no one had thrown it out than that no one kept the records of its instructions. This was back in the dawn of the electrical age. This has "Can you believe this works? Dude! Dude! Let's see how long it can go!" Written all over it. If this had been done in the United States, Barnum & Bailey would have taken it around on a train and charged people two bits a gander to see it.


Sorry, best I'm going to do is 3 pence a peek.


Or you can listen to the bell ring from behind a curtain for 1 pence :-)


"I don't hear anything" "That's one of the best parts; it's in a vacuum! 5 cents to see"


It wasn't an experiment. It was a product that Oxford bought because it was interesting and looked nice. The makers of it sent Oxford a letter saying they expect the device to lose battery power in 3-4 years.


oh thats interesting.


I can't find my school notes from 3 years ago, wasn't this from like the 1800s? Lol


I really want them to eventually open it and find standard AA Duracells in there. The caretaker had been secretly replacing them for years whilst insisting "nobody open it up!!!"


Hahahaha. Could you imagine like a lineage of janitors? "My grandfather replaced the batteries, my father replaced the batteries, and I replaced the batteries. It is now time for you, son, to work as a janitor and replace the batteries and keep this secret from society."


Contents of the battery: Cloves Tom Collins mix Frozen pie crust


If you take your office prank and put it under a glass bell it becomes science and no one is allowed to turn it off.


So if we found the secret to a super long-lasting light bulb that lasts 100 years or longer, we'd literally have to wait 100 years to be able to take advantage of that technology?


General electric, osram and Phillips made a deal in the 1920s to only make crap light bulbs so they could all sell more. They knew they could make much better, longer lasting ones but deliberately didn't in order to increase sales. Edit: typo


One example is the Dubai Light from Phillips, a exclusive lightbulb made for the UAE only iirc.


> Dubai Light from Phillips, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klaJqofCsu4 https://kbelectricpa.com/dubai-lamp-worlds-efficient-led-light-bulb/




I've heard the rumor, but has it been demonstrated that they did this? More importantly, do the light bulbs of today last as long as they could?


https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-history/dawn-of-electronics/the-great-lightbulb-conspiracy Puts it far better than I ever could


The battery isn't special. They are pretty certain what it's made of. It just isn't doing much work, and it isn't going to fall apart because it's in a jar. The TIL lifted the most clickbaity sentence from the whole article.


Plot twist: It's uranium


[A light bulb that has been on around 120 years!](https://youtu.be/LmvdS3Rxw7I)


Don't look under the table! And definitely don't kill power to the building.