Last week I received a collegial e-mail, noting that our recent Friday videos were increasingly bleak, and that sometimes we can all just use some cute cats to get through the end of the week. As a natural contrarian, my immediate thought was to respond with the video below (warning, those with high blood pressure may wish to abstain from viewing):

But in the end, the e-mailer was right. These are challenging times in so many ways. So instead, here’s a fun video with some science behind it. Likely you’ve seen these drinking bird toys your whole life (it was invented in 1946 by Bell Labs scientist Miles Sullivan). But have you ever wondered how they work? Apparently, even Einstein was stumped, but here, Bill Hammack does a beautiful job breaking down the thermodynamic principles that make it bob back and forth.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


3 Thoughts on "An Unlikely Engineering Masterpiece"

Really — no comments yet? Well, how about this one: This made my day. Thanks.

How about running a video on the mechanics of the Slinky? Remember that marvelous toy, which is still sold in Cracker Barrel restaurant shops? It was invented and manufactured in Hollidaysburg, PA, where my wife lived for many years.

I guess this proves I’m not an engineer (already a known fact), for while watching this long technical explanation, my mind was actually occupied thinking of the person who conceived it and the long process that must have occurred from having this (insane?) idea to actually making it work. I suspect that would be the best part of the story.

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