A couple of cool, albeit impractical, clocks

Apr 28 2008 Published by under General science

I'm between "blog thoughts" today, but I thought I'd point out a couple of cool clocks that I "stumbled upon" in recent weeks. Though I don't think either of them will help Tom with his research, they're both pretty cool. Below the fold...

First up is the bulbdial clock (concept by Ironic Sans).

Ever wanted your very own sundial to keep time, but didn't want the hassles that can arise on cloudy days, or at night? The 'bulbdial' would use a trio of rotating light sources to map out shadows for the hour, minute, and second-hands. I don't think it has progressed beyond the concept stage yet, but there's one potential problem: the trio of lights could work against each other to wash out each other's shadows! Presumably if the light sources are made sufficiently directional, this problem would only happen during times when all three 'hands' are pointing in roughly the same direction.

A different sort of clock that has actually been built, by Dutch artist Christiaan Postma, is shown below:

About 150 individual clockworks rotate short brightly colored sticks against a black background. As the next hour approaches, a collection of seemingly randomly oriented sticks slowly rotate into position to spell out the hour! As can be seen in the picture above, the time is somewhere around 4:00, and by squinting you can see the remains of "three" above and "five" gradually forming below.

If you don't think this can work, check out the flash animation here at the artist's website. Apparently he has no plans to produce the clock, but I'd sure buy one. (Hell, maybe I'll try and build my own!)

Actually, I'd probably buy both of these clocks. One could argue that I'd probably never make it to a meeting on time again, but those who know me know that I already have that problem!

Update (h/t my mother):  This last one is only an online timepiece, but is also odd enough to merit a mention...

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