Ridiculous as it sounds, the pendulum clock, a clock built some 365 years ago has triggered a new get rich syndrome with some Nigerians combing through archives and rarely used places for the old clocks and other antiquated technology items like television sets, and gramophones, Nigerian Comunications-week can now reveal.
Optimistic and avaricious, they see the obsolete items as their tickets out of poverty and becoming next millionaires overnight.
These archaic technology items are said to contain “immense wealth” including mercury said to be used for further production.
Another item in high demands is the mercurial barometer, first invented in the 1640s and consists of a glass tube that is closed at one end with a mercury-filled reservoir at the base.
The exact amount of mercury depends on the style and size of the barometer but most antique barometers contain approximately four ounces of mercury, which is equivalent to one quarter of a pound.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that the pendulum clock with Roman calibration is said to be worth as much as N10million, gramophone about N8 million and old black and white television set some N4 million.
Using local technology like torchlights, wrist watches and cellphones, locals are able to determine which pendulum clock contains the prized mercury.
For instance, a pendulum clock that contains mercury will stop working or change the colour of the torchlight when pointed at the device.
When a mobile phone is placed near the clock, it looses service and when a wrist watch is placed near or in contact with the old clock, it will stop working temporarily.
There is no scientific evidence yet to support the craze for these items, some said it is the latest scam, others said the mad rush may be because of the mercury content of the clock.
In any case it is steep stupidity to sell a clock for that much.
Mercury is usually found free in nature and is primarily obtained from the mineral cinnabar and can be used to make thermometers, barometers and other scientific instruments. It conducts electricity and is also used to make silent, position dependent switches.
Mercury vapour is used in streetlights, fluorescent lamps and advertising signs and those are the good sides.
On the other side, mercury is said to be increasingly used now to package illicit drugs for export.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that the use of mercury is one of the several unthinkable modes of drug concealment adopted by the desperate drug barons.
Illicit drugs packaged with mercury is said to be hardly undetectable at screening points.
With all their minds fixed on quick returns, the scavengers of fortune are oblivious of the health hazards posed by mercury.
Mercury is poisonous and can enter the body through the respiratory tract, the digestive tract or directly through the skin. It accumulates in the body, eventually causing severe illness or death.