The Prototype For The 10,000 Year Clock Of The Long Now, At The British Museum



The escapement itself based on the plans available on the Long Now Foundation’s website, appears to be a modified Graham deadbeat. This is a potentially problematic component of the clock from a wear standpoint. If the frequency is 1 full oscillation per minute and the escapement unlocks once per semi-oscillation, the escapement will unlock 10.512 billion times over a 10,000 year period. This seems like a lot, although a 4 Hz watch making 8 semi-oscillations per second, will unlock 1.261,44 billion times over a five year period, if run continuously (five years is a typical recommended service interval) so if friction is kept as low as possible on the locking and impulse surfaces, it seems like you could get away with it. Another interesting problem is the behavior of the Invar torsion spring over that long a period of time (and for that matter, all the materials in the clock – 10,000 years is longer than anyone’s had a chance to observe any man-made alloys, for instance; the earliest bronze artifacts show up around 5,000 BCE. The Foundation’s proposal for the clock says that over its operating lifespan, both “non-malicious human interaction” and “restarts” should be planned for, and in order to make it easier to maintain the clock should parts need to be made, “familiar materials” should be used (the use of comparatively cheap materials is also intended to discourage looting).



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