Are we good ancestors? – The Clock of The Long Now

In Texas under the Sierra Diablo mountain range their lives one of the most audacious
engineering achievements ever conceived – the Clock of the Long Now. Designed by
Danny Hillis it will run for 10000 years with little or no maintenance and is hoped to
symbolise long-term thinking on a scale that no one can deny.

Clock of the Long Now Prototype – Currently located at the Science Museum in London

A few things that, due to its ambition, make it extraordinary:
  1. Unable to rely on any power source on earth for that long, the clock harvest energy from the sun.
  2. Despite being made from the highest feasible grade of Titanium they have to factor in wear and tear into the mechanisms and therefore its time keeping.
  3. In order to symbolise progression rather than just repetition, the clocks chime will be different every day for 10000 years (and have been designed by Brain Eno)
  4. They are creating mechanical interfaces into the rooms which will activate at the 1, 100, 1000 and 10,000 year anniversaries.
  5. Contact within the clock is minimised by running as much as possible on ceramic bearings.
 The questions that the makers of the clock hope you will ask are:
  • If we can make a clock that will last for 10 millennia what else can we achieve?
  • Are we being good ancestors what are we bequeathing to any further generations (we
  • can’t claim the pyramids as our own by the way)
  • What is our role in the long goal?
  • These questions are plenty to ponder I think as well as just respecting the marvel that is the clock of the long now.

It has certainly got me thinking: As ancestors – how can we be more?

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