Stephen Hawking to unveil handless clock that shows time with the help of light

September 15th, 2008 - 12:19 pm ICT by ANI  

London , September 15 (ANI): Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking is going to unveil a remarkable clock that has no hands and shows time with the help of light.

According to a report in the Telegraph, known as the Corpus Clock, the machine has been invented by and designed by Dr John Taylor for Corpus Christi College Cambridge for the exterior of the college’’s new library building.

It will be unveiled on 19th September by Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and author of the global bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

Dr Taylor, an inventor and horologist, has put 500,000 pounds of his own money and seven years into developing the clock, which has been inspired from a design by a clock made by the legendary John Harrison, the pioneer of longitude.

Of Harrison’’s many innovations, he came up with the ”grasshopper escapement”, explained Dr Taylor, referring to the device used by Harrison to turn rotational motion into a pendulum motion for timekeeping.

“No one knows how a grasshopper escapement works, so I decided to turn the clock inside out and, instead of making the escapement 35 mm across, it is 1.5 m across,” he said.

He calls the new version of the escapement a ”Chronophage” (time-eater) “a fearsome beast which drives the clock”, literally “eating away time”.

It is the largest Grasshopper escapement of any clock in the world.

According to Taylor , the Chronophage “hypnotises the watcher with its perpetual motion, punctuated by an extraordinary repertoire of slow blinks, jaw-snaps and stings from its tail.”

The Corpus Clock, which is wound up by an electric motor, has no hands. “It is a new way to show time, with light,” he said.

The clock has no digital numbers, either, but instead a series of slits cut into the face, each a tenth of a degree across.

Blue LED lights are arranged behind the slits, and 60 quarter inch lenses, so that when the escape wheel moves, a series of rapidly darting lights runs in concentric circles to mark passing seconds, and pause at the correct hour and minute.

What appears to be lights flashing in sequence are actually controlled mechanically, using the same principle as a zoetrope, the old fashioned way to view a moving image through slits.

The clock also plays tricks on the observer, seeming occasionally to pause, run unevenly and even go backwards. All this is achieved through mechanics rather than computer programming.

The total wattage used by the clock is less than a 60 watt light bulb. (ANI)

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