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Grim indeed, yet eloquent and utterly compelling."
The End: NECESSARY EVIL Is Out! - 5/1/2013, 10:29 AM Because I Haven't Posted About tDCS In A While - 4/8/2013, 04:07 PM Announcing the NECESSARY EVIL Signing Tour - 4/5/2013, 05:15 PM Nuclear Deterrence in a Blood Magic World - 2/22/2013, 09:41 AM Guest Post #2 at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/17/2013, 04:41 PM Guest Post at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/15/2013, 09:17 PM A Conversation with Charlie Stross - 2/8/2013, 11:06 AM NOW OUT in the UK: THE COLDEST WAR - 2/7/2013, 12:22 AM Clarion Is Accepting Applications for the Class of 2013 - 1/27/2013, 06:38 PM Holy Smokes! Cover Art for Something More Than Night - 1/23/2013, 09:44 PM
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I love clocks.
The Long Now Foundation is trying to build a monumental clock that will run for 10,000 years. It's part of an overall effort to promote thinking on scales of deep time -- far longer than human lifetimes, longer even than the lifetimes of nations and civilizations.
I'm not convinced the project will work -- I don't have much faith in humanity's ability to think in the long term, much less its ability to physically wind a clock regularly for the next 10,000 years -- but it's neat nonetheless.
And it gets me thinking about clocks. I love clocks. A good clock is a piece of art as much as a piece of precision engineering. For centuries, throughout much of the world, being a horologist meant being one of the most highly-skilled artisans a person could know.
Timepiece as Art
Here's one that spells the hour out of an assortment of the hands from many other (smaller) clocks. How cool is that?
And here's one that starts running when you break the container. Like christening a ship with a champagne bottle, it invites you to launch your future from a sharp, shattered now of your own choosing.
Timepiece as Statement
At some level, aren't all human clocks a statement about senescence? Like this very depressing (but eye-opening) lifetime clock.
On the other hand (heh, I kill me) the right wristwatch can say, "I'm a fabulously wealthy vampire". (That's right:
$30,000 $300,000 for a watch that tells you whether it's night or day. That's all it does. Even more mind-bloggling? These things sold out when they were first unveiled.)
Timepiece as Perspective
The world will keep spinning whether or not I remember to set the alarm clock. But it's easy to forget.
Besides, concepts like "6:00 in the morning" and "2:41 in the afternoon" are artificial constructs that exist solely because of the magic of consensual reality.
Sundial as Innovation
Sundials must be among the oldest means of telling time. Sundial obelisks have been found in the Babylonian archeological record, and I'll bet the practice of marking the passage of time by shadow movement goes back ever further. Even so, sundials are surprisingly, fascinatingly complex. Especially in light (heh, I'm doing it again) of what a simple idea the sundial represents.
After 5500 years, there's still room for innovation. Like the bulbdial clock. How neat is this? Part analog clock, part sundial. Lovely.
But I'd have to say my favorite sundial is digital. No, that's not an illusion. Yes, the numbers actually change as the sun moves. And no, it has no moving parts. That's not an LCD display! The digits are formed by sunlight shining through a carefully constructed (and calculated!) mask.
Beat that, ancient Sumerians.
Really well-researched. As your professional fact-checker, I must point out that according to your link the vampire watch cost $300,000 and not $30,000 as you wrote here. I wouldn't buy that junk for $30K but for $300K I might think about it. I'd want to polish it up with some Brasso, though. That thing looks caked in dried blood.
Also, you left out the orrery. That thing is just as good as a 10,000 year clock as long as there are still internets in 10,000 years. And Flash plug-ins. But I'm sure those things will stand the test of time.
Duly corrected, sir.
As for the orrery, I consider that a 26,000 year clock. Those guys at the Long Now Foundation are underachievers.
Wow, and I thought my addiction to Popular Science was . . . uh, huh.
Anyway, just catching up with your blog. I'm impressed by your close miss, but I have to wonder whether the superpowers have ever manifested?
Unwalkers interview [English | French ]
Interview with Speculate! Podcast Interview with Adventures in SciFi Publishing
Ian Tregillis on the Sword and Laser Podcast
Ian Tregillis on John Scalzi's The Big Idea
Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with SFRevu
Interview with Mad Hatter Book Review
Interview with Apex Books
Interview at Literary Musings Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
An interview with the authors of Busted Flush at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with Travis Heermann at The Write Line
9-way interview with the contributors to the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview in the February, 2008 newsletter of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
An extended interview with Ian Tregillis by Ty Franck, on www.wildcardsbooks.com.