Thursday, June 23, 2011

10,000 Year Clock

A team of Seattle-based builders, designers and engineers is currently constructing a 200-foot tall clock some 500-feet deep into a mountain in the Sierra Diablos of remote West Texas. The massive timepiece is designed to chime every day for the next 10,000 years.

The huge undertaking is the brainchild of the Long Now Foundation and is being funded by founder Jeff Bezos.

The father-and-son stone cutting team Stuart and James Kendall of Seattle Solstice stoneworks have created a custom robotic saw that will cut a massive spiral staircase into the mountain, and gargantuan gears 5 to 8 feet tall and weighing 1,000 pounds each are being built at Seattle's Machinists Incorporated with the help of another Seattle company, The Gear Works.

Six dials on the clock's face will represent the year, century, horizons, sun position, lunar phase, and the stars of the night sky over a 10,000-year period. Large plates which run down the center of the clock will generate a different bell ringing order for each day of the next 10,000 years. The clock will be "self-winding" through a combination of thermal power and 20,000 pound weights.

After many years of work, the final design and engineering of the Clock is nearly complete, and fabrication of the full-size Clock parts has begun. Stuart Kendall expects to start work on the staircase in the fall, and preparatory work is already underway in West Texas where a mining company is boring the entry tunnel.

The project website is here, and Wired Magazine has a long and detailed article on the technical aspects of the project.

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