The Corpus Clock is a very unusual timepiece. It has no hands or numbers on it’s dial; merely a series of apertures through which light is being cycled. The horologiboffins at Long Now described these as “epicyclic mechanically phased vernier openings” – I’m going to take their word on that. The video tour below gives a good overview of the clock and the movement.
The clock is full of horological in-jokes, the most prominent of which is the Chronophage (literally “time eater”), a huge grasshopper automata that skulks atop the clock eating the pulses as they fly by. Although electrically powered the clock features the worlds largest grasshopper escapement, an invention of the celebrated maverick clockmaker John Harrison. The video below shows a grasshopper escapement in action.
The clock was unveiled last week by professor Stephen Hawking at it’s home on the wall of the Taylor Library in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England. The Corpus Clock is the creation of British inventor John Taylor, a fellow of the college. Taylor, who retired in 2000, made his fortune in the 70’s designing thermostats for kettles. He reportedly invested £1 million of his own money in the project.