Current Issue
April 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Keeping you current

This Antique Polar Bear Robot Blows Bubbles

It turns out that even early robot makers were all about the polar bear

Polar bears are some of the most charismatic megafauna we’ve got, and even early robot makers, it turns out, were charmed by them. This delightful little polar bear that blows bubbles is an early automaton from 1905:

The bear is featured on the Douglas Fisher Antique Automata website, which explains:

When bubble mixture present in chalice and automaton wound by the key and bayonet start/stop rod actuated, the polar bear turns his head to the left as his right hand holding bubble hoop scoops up mixture from the chalice held in left hand and lifts hoop in front of face, pausing for a moment then suddenly blowing to exude a stream of many bubbles which blow around the room. He then quickly turns his head to the left and opens his mouth to clearly reflect on the fun of the action, scooping more liquid for the next of many bubbles blown in repeating sequence again and again.

This isn’t the only polar bear automaton that Douglas Fisher has, in fact. The site also features this circus bear that balances a ball on its nose.

These might not be as technologically advanced as, say, the 3D polar bears of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but they’re far more whimsical.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Before Robots, Japan Had Tiny Dolls That Tumbled Down Stairs And Served Tea

There Used to Be an Entire Museum Full of Weird, Old Robots, And You Can Still Take a Video Tour

Tags
About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus