It sounds like an image from an early-era Pink Floyd lyric sheet, but it's actually a technological reality: Metal flowers that open and close on their own with the passing of the sun.
The flowers, from a Kickstarter initiative called Bimetal Creations, are powered solely by changes in ambient air temperature. There are no solar panels, motors, batteries or switches. Instead the flowers open and close with the natural expansion of the metal.
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It works like this: The flowers use the properties of bimetallic strips - two different metals bonded side-to-side - which generate mechanical displacement with changes in temperature.
As one strip expands or contracts and the other doesn't, a kind of sideways pressure causes the strip to bend. It's the same phenomenon that powers certain kinds of thermostats with dial indicators.
The metal flowers' creator, engineer Greg Mathy, said he was inspired to invent the flowers when he was working on a design dilemma concerning the thermal mismatch between steel and aluminum.
"I originally got the idea because I am a nerdy engineer who deals with thermal expansion on a daily basis," Mathy told Discovery News in an email. "As I started to learn more about bimetal, I thought that there has to be a cool use for such a unique material. Lying in bed one night, I figured maybe I could make a bimetal flower."
Mathy - a rather excellent name for an engineer, by the way - spent more than four years working on his design before launching his successful Kickstarter campaign, which wraps up this week.
Four different bimetal flowers are currently available, code-named Ruth, Mabel, Henriette and Ethel. The minimum $39 pledge will get you one flower in the color of your choice, with delivery sometime before October.
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The petals and stem of each flower are made from copper, with the bimetal coil design remaining "top secret."
Mathy said each flower takes about 10 minutes to manually assemble from pre-made parts. He intends to fill all orders by hand, with the help of family and friends. If demand increases down the line, he may outsource production and expand his line of offerings.
"Let's just say that there are other types of flowers that can be mimicked with bimetal," Mathy said. You can check out Mathy's time-lapse videos and get more details at the Kickstarter page.