Astronomy, Time, and Clocks

The study of astronomy and time have been linked since prehistory. Measurement of time from the ultra precise to the age of the universe is at the heart of astronomical study. Cyclical astronomical phenomena have been the measure of time for humans since prehistory.

A friend of mine has recently completed an amazing astronomical clock. Discussion of this reminded me of another project, the 10,000 year clock of Danny Hillis' The Long Now Foundation.

The 10,000 Year Clock


image credit Anders Sandberg, Flickr

The image above is a small scale model of the clock. The monumental scale clock is designed to last for 10,000 years. It will tick once per year, chime with a unique song every century, and a cuckoo will appear every millennium. It is under construction now in a limestone mountain in west Texas. Danny was the founder of Thinking Machines Corporation, the builders of Connection Machine super computers, which were the fastest in the world during the 1990s. We used one here at Schlumberger in Austin. Danny's co-chair at the Long Now is Steward Brand, the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. The Long Now Foundation was established to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. They sponsor other projects in addition to the clock. Their SALT seminars are well worth your time.

Don Elledge's clock is in the form of an orrery. Executed as a beautiful fusing of classic mechanical and the latests electronics and software to produce a clock of amazing functionality and accuracy. You can learn more about it at Tycho Design:
image credit Tycho Design

Content created: 2018-10-28

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