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Published: Thursday 12 September, 2013

factory outlets online shopping factory outlets online shopping ?The Invention of the Clock

Having accurate time measurement is something that we take for granted. We have clocks everywhere that we go. We wear clocks on our wrists, carry them around on cell phones, view them on our ovens and DVD players, and can find them just about anywhere we go. Modern society needs the clock in order to schedule events. It hasnt always been this way. Timekeeping has only been a fairly recent invention.

My interest in the history of timekeeping came from a book that I read in college, which Ill talk about later. The style of the book is great, and the content is pretty interesting too. It helped me see the world of timekeeping in a different light.

As far back as history itself, people have had the need to tell time, to some degree. The first attempts at time keeping involved tracking the moon cycles. Even today, some religious traditions rely on the phases of the moon, such as the date when Easter or Ramadan takes place.

It became apparent that a way to track the seasons would be of utmost importance, and people as early as ancient Babylon had the year in place. Babylon had a 19year cycle where they tracked moonmonths. Normal years would have 12 moon months in this cycle, but it became necessary to add seven extra moon months during the cycle.

Ancient Egypt knew that there were 365 days in a year, and created a calendar consisting of 12 30day months. The extra five days were added at the end. Of course, a real year is 365 1/4 days long, so the Egyptian system led to slowly wandering seasons. However, the seasons wandered quite slowly. If you had an incredibly long 100year life span, the year would only wander about 25 days in your lifetime.

As civilization progressed, it eventually became necessary to break up the day into smaller increments. This led to the invention of the sundial. The sundial was a fairly simple invention. It was primarily a post in the ground that would measure the time of the day by the length of the shadows. Sundials were in use as far back as in ancient Egypt, and there still exists a sundial from about 1500 BC that was in use by Thutmose III.

People didnt think of the hours like we do today. Hours did not last the same amount of time as they do now. The day was typically divided into 12 hours, but these hours were not the same length throughout the entire year. In the summer, there was more daylight, and the hours were longer. In the winter, the days were shorter, and so were the hours. Nevertheless, many Romans used the sundial to determine their meals.

The problem with sundials was that they only worked when it was sunny. At night or on cloudy days, you were out of luck. This led to the invention of the water clock. Some clocks were based on the amount of water that flowed into a device, other clocks were based on the amount of water that flowed out of a device.

The hours still varied from season to season. Night hours in the summer were a lot shorter than night hours in the winter.

Some water clocks were used like hourglasses are today, to mark minutes. In the courts of ancient Athens, water clocks that measured about six minutes time were used to measure time. Lawyers would get a certain amount of turns of the water clock to give their speeches.

Over time, more creative clocks were developed. There were candle clocks, incense clocks, and even clocks that you could taste.

Photo is of a later water clock in Korea. Photo by Kai Hendry.

Eventually, timepieces were invented that divided the day up differently than shifting hours. Medieval monks felt the need to tell the time so they could go to prayers. These early clocks did not have dials on them; rather, they had bells that would tell you the time. In fact, the word clock comes from the German word Glocke, meaning bell. Monks had to go to prayers at the first light, at sunrise, in the middle of the morning, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, at sunset, and at nightfall. Still, these early clocks were not divided up into the hours that we know of today.

Around 1330, the modern hour, with 24 equal segments making up the day, was developed. Towers, usually located in churches and town halls, would sound the hours as they passed. These new clocks were still created without dials, as most of the population was illiterate and could not read the numbers. The hour hand was slowly introduced to clocks around the 14th century. Even then, the dials were not always the same, and they were not always like ours. Some had dials that went from 1 to 6, and went around the clock four times a day. Others had dials that went around the clock once a day, and had 24 hours.

Eventually, these early clocks become quite creative. Some would track the tides, the locations of the planets, the factory outlets online shopping days of the week, and even eclipses. Some would have mechanical processions, like the Magi bowing down to Mary. In the 1800s, Pennsylvania Dutch clockmakers who had come from the old world created clocks containing a parade of presidents.

Photo by Luis Miguel Bugallo Snchez, distribution rights listed at Wikimedia Commons

As time went on, timepieces became more accurate. Galileo Galilei noticed that a pendulum would swing at the same time interval, no matter what the width of the swing was he didnt invent the pendulum clock, however. The pendulum clock made timekeeping more prescise.

If you are able to tell the time difference between two locations, you can tell where you are. For example, the sun shines overhead in New York City about three hours before it will in Seattle. If you can tell the time difference, you can tell your longitude. This was not really necessary on land, as landmarks could tell you where you were. However, at sea was a factory outlets online shopping nother matter. There were no landmarks on the open ocean. Unfortunately, the clocks of the time couldnt tell time on a rolling and rocking ship.

Governments started to offe factory outlets online shopping r rewards to anyone that could come up with a way to tell time accurately while at sea. After all, the ability to tell the latitude and longitude of your ship could keep your ship from sailing into dangerous waters that could cause shipwrecks.

The spring clock was invented as a result, but it had some bugs to work out first. Robert Hooke developed a law that determined the force on a spring over a certain distance. He also invented a watch. Unfortunately, he did not win the prize money. That went to a man named John Harrison, who invented a watch that met the degree of accuracy required by the contest. The clock that he invented passed the test for the prize in 1761.

Having clocks was helpful for towns and villages that wanted to have church at the same time each day, or for people that wanted to meet at a specific time. However, after the railroad was invented, there was a problem. All cities and towns set their clocks with the sun. As you traveled west or east, of course, your time would change.

Trains were having troubles. Since there were no standard time zones, nobody knew what time was what when they traveled. Sometimes the trains would leave the station early, and people would miss the train. Other times, trains would be at the station for longer than they should have, and they would be hit by other trains. This problem was solved when the railroad executives met and decided to divide the United States up into four time zones Alaska and Hawaii were not states, and they also were not part of the railroad system. This helped the trains run on time. Soon, the idea of time zones caught on. Today, time zones are used all around the world. factory outlets online shopping