Long-Term Thinking

August 1, 2009 · 1 comment

Time Cam

She Who Must Be Obeyed presented me with an early (three months early) birthday present today. Knowing about my fascination with the Clock of the Long Now, she found the sculpture pictured above. It’s a numbered, lost-wax-cast replica of the cam that will be used in the Clock to calculate the plus or minus fifteen minute deviation of solar time to absolute time for over 10,000 years. (There are more photos of the cam here.)

It took me less than a minute to locate the perfect place to display the cam:

Time progression

It’s on the mantelpiece in our dining room, where I’ll see it every day. It’s to the right of the mantel clock that used to reside in my grandfather’s house. The clock is flanked by two halves of an ammonite fossil, and the crystal to the far left is a chunk of salt from the Earth’s Silurian period.

I’m beginning to regard this particular arrangement of objects as my own Total Perspective Vortex, as described by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, “You are here.”

According to Adams, the Vortex “is allegedly the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected.” I don’t think that’s what She Who Must Be Obeyed had in mind, I’m pretty sure she just wants me to slow down a bit and take a longer view. I’ll work on it.

1 comment

Colin Summers August 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

That is a really sexy piece of a machine. That’s great.

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