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<   No. 3105   2011-07-28   >

Comic #3105

1 Spanners: I suggest we fly right through it.
1 Paris: Through the negative space wedgie??
2 Spanners: Stop calling it that. That's a meaningless technobabble term that bears no relation to reality.
3 Paris: So what is it then?
4 Spanners: I'm picking up a quantum inverse tachyon pulse flux. It's a negative time wedgie.

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So we have a small digital LCD clock in the bathroom, because it's convenient to know what the time is when you're in there, and I never wear a watch when I'm at home. The other day the battery began showing signs of faltering.

Now with a digital timepiece, you'd expect that it would work and keep time up until a point where the battery power was no longer enough to drive the LCD, at which point the display would dim and then switch off. But being digital, it presumably keeps time with some sort of digital timing circuitry. Digital circuits are well known for their ability to function at a specific level because of their use of logical 0 or 1 signals, with a hard threshold between them, rather than analogue signals such as voltage or current levels. That's the very definition of digital. If the voltage drops, the circuit should keep working exactly as it does at full power, until the threshold separating the 0 and 1 signals is crossed, at which point it should stop working at all.

The gist of this is that a digital timepiece, with a digital display, should keep perfect time as the voltage of its power source drops, until it reaches some threshold value, and then the circuit should stop working and it should simply fail to display anything sensible at all.

Only that's not what's happening with our LCD clock. It's running slow. Normally it keeps decent time, but over the past few days it's been progressively running slower. It's now lost several hours and is showing 8:19, despite it being 3:44 pm.

What's more, this clock has run out of battery power before, three or four times in the years we've had it. And on previous occasions it's kept good time right up until the point where the display faded to the point of illegibility and I went out to buy a new battery. But not this time. This time it's losing time.

Either something is up with this clock, or my bathroom is in some sort of time warp.

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who wrote with an explanation, especially the electronics engineers. I now have about 11 different plausible explanations for this behaviour. Only 3 of which involve actual time warps. :-)

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My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
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Last Modified: Thursday, 28 July 2011; 03:11:01 PST.
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