Posted on | January 4, 2006 at 10:20 pm | 15 Comments
Prepare to have your minds blown, gentle readers. Not since the Saga of the Missing Forks have we here at FlasshePoint encountered a household mystery so tantalizing that this blog deserves a Google PageRank of 6 (instead of the measly 4 that it is). Here now, I present the Mystery of the Magic Clock.
Despite (or maybe because of) my superpower of always being able to correctly guess the current time, I have a fetish for time pieces that keep perfect time. For other reasons that I am too adrenalized to go into detail about right now, I purchased yet another “atomic” radio-controlled time display device. (For the uninitiated among you, these devices synchronize themselves with a radio signal originating from the atomic clock at NIST in Ft Collins, Colorado, so that they always display the absolutely correct current time.) I now have two wall clocks and two watches that operate this way.
This latest atomic wall/desk clock I bought also has (among other features) temperature displays for the inside and outside temperatures. I don’t really need that, since I already have various instruments for that, including a Radio Shack wireless thermometer with indoor/outdoor sensors. I have two (out of a possible three) outdoor sensors hooked up to that, which gives me temperature readings from the front and the back of my house. An average of the two values usually yields a fairly accurate measure of the outside temperature. This is extremely useful for determining what to wear when I go out running in the morning. Anyway, this new clock also came with a battery-powered wireless temperature sensor that you are supposed to mount outside.
Here’s a picture of the new clock:
Notice anything unusual? That box on the left is the wireless temperature sensor. It is shown with the battery compartment open and no batteries. I have never put the batteries in it. The object on the right is the display from my Radio Shack sensor. Okay, look at the outdoor temperature reading on the new clock (37.5 Â°F). It’s not even supposed to have a reading without the sensor activated. And yet, there it is, and if you compare it to the temp on the RS sensor (36.0 Â°F), they’re pretty close. What’s going on? Is the clock psychic? How does it know the outside temperature?
I briefly theorized that the clock was picking up the signal from one of the Radio Shack sensors (maybe the transmission protocol for temperature sensors is standardized across brands?), but quickly discarded that theory since the displayed temperatures (both front and back) are close to the one on the clock but not exact.
The only thing I can figure is that one of my neighbors has the same model clock and has a sensor mounted on their house somewhere very close to my house. Since the houses here are packed fairly close together, I suppose this is not out of the realm of possibility. The instruction manual lists the transmission distance as “maximum 300 feet (100 meters) in open field, depending upon surrounding structures, mounting location and possible interfering sources”.
I bet you guys won’t be able to sleep tonight pondering this one. Sorry to lay this massive headtrip on you.