The 10,000 Year Clock that Jeff Bezos is funding is being installed

Chris Davies - Feb 20, 2018, 12:19 pm CDT
The 10,000 Year Clock that Jeff Bezos is funding is being installed

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has begun the installation of his 10,000 Year Clock, where each tick happens just once a year. The project had begun drilling at its mountain installation site in Texas back in 2009, though it’s only now that the 500 foot high clock has begun to be fitted into place.

It’s no small engineering endeavor, either. Since you can’t rely on electronics lasting for anything like the length of time the 10,000 Year Clock project is aiming for, instead it’s entirely mechanical. It’ll be powered by thermal cycles: the changes in temperature between day and night will be enough to ensure the time-keeping apparatus is kept running.

It’ll be synchronized at solar noon, though while the project is aiming for 10,000 years, that won’t be without human interaction. Indeed, it’ll still require maintenance over its expected lifespan, though the payoff visually for those involved will be minimal. The century hand will only move once every one hundred years, for instance, while the clock’s cuckoo will only emerge on the millennium.

The project was created by Danny Hillis, a computer science engineer, back in 1986. What he dubbed the Clock of the Long Now was his vision of a mechanical creation that could embody human endeavor for the next 10,000 years, and break through the “mental barrier” of seeing the year 2000 as “the future.”

That spawned The Long Now Foundation, and the clock gained the attention of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He’s financially supporting its construction, and indeed owns the land on which – or, more accurately, under which – it’s being installed. “As I see it,” Bezos has said of the project, “humans are now technologically advanced enough that we can create not only extraordinary wonders but also civilization-scale problems. We’re likely to need more long-term thinking.”

This point of installation is a major milestone for Hillis, Bezos, and the rest of the 10,000 Year Clock team. Back in December 2011, the project completed drilling the 500 foot deep vertical shaft into which the clock is now being fitted. It’s lined with a spiral staircase around its 12.5 foot diameter.

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