Ask Mr Brain... all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2000, 12:00am

Is it true that someone has invented a clockwork radio that does not need batteries?

British inventor Trevor Baylis has won many awards for applying the idea behind the wind-up clock to power a radio.

In 1993, Baylis saw a TV programme about the spread of Aids in Africa. In many regions, radio was the only available means of communication, but the need for batteries or electricity made them too expensive for most people to be able to use them.

Baylis has a passion for inventing useful gadgets to help physically handicapped people. He was inspired to develop an educational tool that did not rely on electricity. He began tinkering in his workshop with a hand brace, an electric motor and a radio.

He found that the brace turning the motor could generate sufficient electricity to power the radio. The addition of a wind-up mechanism like that on a clock meant the radio would play as the spring unwound. His first working prototype clockwork radio ran for 14 minutes on a two-minute wind.

With improvements, clockwork radios can now play for one hour once fully wound up.

In 1995, the clockwork radio went into production at a newly set up company in South Africa. The radio has been sold worldwide since October 1996. It is also distributed by organisations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross.

A range of clockwork radios combined with solar panels has also been developed, along with clockwork torches and computers. Now Baylis is trying to develop a clockwork landmine detector.

What is wrong with putting bananas in the refrigerator?

Once bananas are put into a refrigerator, they will not ripen any further. The skin will turn dark. So it is best to put them in a fridge only after they have fully ripened.

They are best ripened at room temperature and then they can be put into the fridge. The skin will turn dark, but the flesh inside is still perfectly fresh and good to eat.