10,000 Year Time Machine

Posted by Alex

10,000 Year Clock Prototype

Did you know that The Long Now Foundation is building a 10,000 year clock?

The idea behind the Clock is to be an inspiration for long-term thinking, to help make thinking long term automatic and common, instead of difficult and rare. It is hoped to be an artifact to connect its visitors to the future in the same way relics from ancient civilizations connect us to the past. Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think. [link]

The clock may reside mostly underground, near Van Horn, Texas, and will tick once a year. There is a fascinating set of principles guiding the construction of the clock. I enjoyed the various options for timing the clock: piezoelectric oscillator, pendulum, orbital dynamics and etc. “Sounds made up” as my roommate is fond of saying. Currently there is a prototype design at the Science Museum of London.

By the way I titled this post “10,000 Year Time Machine” because any clock that will work for this period of time is much more than a clock, it is a giant MACHINE. Apologies if you were expecting a post on an actual time machine like a Delorean.

7 Comments Leave A Comment


drew kora says:

August 4, 2010 at 4:24 am

I’ve been followign this project for awhile, adn what they aim to do is really fascinating.

Readers of this blog might be interested to know that Brian Eno is intensely involved with the Long Now Foundation (site on the board of directors) and this 10,000 year clock project. And, doesn’t that just seemed so right?


Karl Peterson says:

August 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I read somewhere that Brian Eno designed a musical algorithm for this project that produces a different bell toll every day for 10,000 years. And he made this album “January 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now.” The TED talk about the clock is also highly recommended.


Joe says:

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

w00t. I’m a long now member. All of my music (The Lights Galaxia) is created specifically with the long now in mind. They also play Lights Galaxia music in the Long Now store. … Am currently working on music for a full album.