#FridayFact: battery powered bell has rung for 175 years

170px-Oxford_Electric_BellIn Oxford University, England, a battery powered bell has been ringing since it was set up as an experiment in 1840. That’s coming up for 176 years!  It has only stopped ringing on a few occasions due to an increase in humidity.

The experiment was set up by clergyman and physicist Robert Walker and is located in a corridor of Clarendon Laboratory. Due to it’s continuous ringing, it is encased on 2 layers of glass to make it inaudible!

Nobody really knows what is powering the bell. It consists of two brass bells below two dry piles which are connected in series. There is then a clapper which rings each of the bells alternately due to electrostatic force.

It is known that the dry piles are coated in molten sulphur, but the composition of the actual piles themselves remains a mystery, as to find out would mean deconstructing the bell and thus ending the experiment.

The bell has produced something like 10 billion rings since 1840 and hold the Guinness World Record as the “world’s most durable battery delivering ceaseless tintinnabulation”.

It will eventually stop when the power of the dry piles runs out…or when the clapper wears out! Until then, it will simply remain a mystery as to what or how it is being powered.

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