November 1, 2021

The hourglass is undoubtedly one of the first instruments devised by man to calculate time, made from something as simple as sand.

It is believed that it is an instrument that is no longer used, but the reality is that in many chemical laboratories this element is valued for the calculation of the precise time of the reactions. Which is essential, since precision is the key to success in these spaces.

What is an hourglass?

To understand this concept, it is necessary to divide it. A watch is the device that allows you to measure time , using a system of hands that determines the seconds, minutes and hours.

Sand is a group of particles that are obtained by the degradation of rocks and gather in places close to sources of water, both fresh and salty.

In view of this, I can tell you that an hourglass is a measuring instrument that uses sand as its main component. It is responsible for making measurements of specific and brief periods that do not mostly exceed 5 minutes, using the force of gravity as a principle .

It consists of two cone-like structures joined by an extremely narrow duct, time begins to run from when the first grain of sand falls until one of the cones is completely emptied into the other.

What is an hourglass for?

The hourglass is an instrument dedicated to temporal measurement, because it is capable of measuring brief periods of time that do not exceed five minutes.

It is its essential function as a measuring instrument, however, it should be noted that there are no intervals because, since it is sand that falls, the minutes are fulfilled when the last grain of sand falls.

This piece allows measurements to be made in a laboratory about the reaction time of the different mixtures that are made.

How does an hourglass work?

This measuring instrument is considered mechanical, the hourglass allows measurements of short periods of time, specifically minutes. It is based on two cone-shaped sections that are connected by a thin tube that allows to regulate the fall of sand according to the seconds.

The sand has to be extremely fine so that it can pass through this union in a fluid way and that it complies with the time for which this hourglass was designed, if it is 1 minute, 3 minutes, among others.

To be able to fulfill this function, the hourglass uses the force of gravity that is exerted on the Earth accompanied by the potential energy that is emanated, to ensure the fall of the sand in this jar, fulfilling a precise corresponding period at the end.

The best of all is that simply by turning the hourglass you can let time run again because the operating mechanism is the same, since the two cones have the same size, the same amount of sand and therefore, the same amount of time.

Uses of the Hourglass

The uses of the hourglass are widespread and have been changing over the years. Previously it was used by boats to measure time or in public places to time.

Currently its uses are more destined to the decorative and astral due to the competences that have arrived in technological matters, which have caused its almost discontinuation. However, this watch is still used in the following fields:

  • To determine the times it takes for certain compounds to react or for different phenomena to appear in laboratories .
  • It is used to set the performance time in different board games.
  • An excellent companion in the kitchen, as it allows you to set the cooking times for different foods.
  • To measure the times that have elapsed in telephone calls.

In short, despite the decrease in popularity, hourglasses are an excellent companion for measuring time in different situations.

Types of Hourglass

Believe it or not, the hourglass has a wide variety of types, depending on the material of manufacture. This classification is thanks to the acceptance around the world, which generated an evolution of the instrument according to current needs and designs.

  • Glass Hourglass

In this case, this hourglass is made of glass or crystal, which gives it a more modern design and because of its transparency you will be able to observe the sand falling from it.

  • Plastic Hourglass

This hourglass model was born as a way to ensure accessibility since it reduces costs compared to glass. In addition, it is a safe element to be used by children and young people in their early stages of experimentation with instruments.

  • Wooden Hourglass

They were perhaps the oldest models in conjunction with glass, with a rudimentary but modern touch you can enjoy a durable hourglass with greater capacity.

  • Liquid Hourglass

This hourglass is out of the ordinary because it reverses all the principles that I mentioned earlier. In this case, it has liquids inside that instead of falling by gravity rise thanks to the differences in density.

  • Brass Hourglass

The brass is one of the materials with which this is made kind of hourglass . With an antique look and a representation closer to metal, it is a good option when purchasing a watch.

  • Magnetic Hourglass

It is a modern hourglass that is used more by the attractive forces of magnets. In this case, a magnet is placed at the base and the sand is exchanged for iron filings , which is a more accurate component in timing.

Most of them retain the original idea, however, with the development of technologies in order to seek the perfection of the devices, it was not surprising that it suffered variations, which is valid in order to maintain the perpetuation of the instrument.

Hourglass Features

The hourglass is a unique instrument, that is, it has a large number of qualities that have allowed it to perpetuate itself in everyday life for so many years.

The main characteristics of the hourglass are the following:

  • It has two cone-shaped capsules that contain the sand that will pass from one side to the other in the programmed time.
  • The hourglass is accompanied by a support structure that is the one that really varies in terms of material.
  • The sand must be extremely fine and of a homogeneous type consistency so that it flows easily and without hindrance.
  • Variations in the time to measure are given by the type of sand, the size of the joint hole and the entire structure in general.
  • It must be vertical in order to function correctly since it must be remembered that it works with the force of gravity.

These and other characteristics make up this unique instrument to achieve its general objective and to satisfy the needs according to this matter.

Importance of the Hourglass

The hourglass is a transcendental instrument, which has been reflected in the number of years since it was created and how it has become a symbol of time today.

As I mentioned earlier, this hourglass was used by sailors to measure the time they had on their voyages, one of them being the great Magellan.

In addition, it should be noted that he was the forerunner of all other time measurement objects , as they were based on his idea to be able to invent and grow.

Finally, it is necessary to assess the qualities of this instrument in order to be awarded the position it deserves, which is nothing more than that of being the forerunner of time measurement instruments.

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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