Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Corpus Clock and the Chronophage

The Corpus Clock, unveiled on Sep. 19th by Stephen Hawking, is the £1 million 24-carat-plated-gold stainless steel invention of John C. Taylor and sits outside the Taylor library at Corpus Christie College, Cambridge.

The Chronophage is the creature that sits on top, so named because he is the 'devourer of time'. He's modeled like a giant terrifying grasshopper/locust, after the grasshopper escapement, a low-friction mechanism for converting pendulum motion into rotational motion, invented in the 18th century by John Harrison, to whom the clock is dedicated. The Chronophage occasionally blinks, and appears to be creeping forward across the rim of the clock, biting down with a loud mechanical crunching noise every second.

The clock is completely mechanical, has no hands, and is perfectly accurate only once every five minutes. “Clocks are fixed, whereas we all know, time is fluid. It drags and it flies. Like Einstein said, an hour sitting next to a pretty girl can be like a minute, and a minute sitting on a hot stove can seem like an hour. I wanted this clock to reflect that, to play tricks with observers.” Dr Christopher de Hamel, Fellow Librarian at Corpus Christi, said: “I wanted it to be a monster, because time itself is a monster . . . It is horrendous, and horrible, and beautiful."

Here is the Wikipedia article, and here is an excellent article from The Times.

(posted by Lyra)

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