Time (Eats) Flies: Clock Powers Itself by Catching & Eating Bugs

DiscoblogBy Patrick MorganMar 28, 2011 8:03 PM


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Cat clocks. Cuckoo clocks. Grandfather clocks. Often times, clocks are named after the objects, animals, or people they resemble. Not so the fly clock: This mechanical wonder is billed as the first-ever carnivorous clock, sucking energy from decomposed fly carcasses (giving new meaning to the phrase "eating up time"). The mechanics are quite elegant: Unsuspecting flies get stuck on the clock's flypaper, which is rigged as a corpse-carrying conveyor belt. A blade on the clock scrapes the catch into a microbial fuel cell. As it digests the fly, the fuel cell extracts electrons to power the LCD screen. As flypaper keeps trapping and the wheels keep turning, you have yourself an Earth-friendly, critter-ridding timepiece the likes the world has never seen. UK engineers got the idea of a carnivorous clock from Chris Melhuish at the Bristol Robotics Lab, whose team previously developed another fly-powered robot, according to MSNBC. But the idea of carnivorous robots goes back at least a decade, to the aptly named Slugbot. Related Content: 80beats: Video: Fluorescent Bacteria Keep Time Like a Clock The Loom: The Clock That Breeds 80beats: Men Have a Biological Clock, Too Science Not Fiction: Fringe Doomsday Clock

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