Sunday, January 29, 2012

Found Time and Cool Clockworks - Photos

Found Time Tank by Randall Cleaver, currently on display at NWCM
One of those out-of-the-way yet very-cool-to-visit places is the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, PA.  A current exhibit is entitled "Found Time" featuring clocks sculpted by Randall Cleaver from various found objects.  I was so entranced that I forgot to take pictures! (I'm famous for doing that, but I linked up the site for you.)

The museum is heaven for horologists, history lovers and steampunk afficionados (they had a Victorian ball last year).

Drawing of 1088AD water clock by Su Sung. An armillary sphere tracked sun, moon and star orbits, while mannequins periodically rang bells and chimes to sound the hours.  The mechanism was powered by water.

The Atomichron (early 1950s) was the world's first commercial atomic clock, built by the National Company, Inc of Malden, Massachusetts. It was also the first self-contained portable atomic clock. (It was about the size of a filing cabinet, so not portable as in "carry it in your briefcase".)  Atomic clocks use the oscillations of atoms in a gas to mark frequency (in this case, cesium). It is so accurate it would only lose a second in 32,000 years.


Are you old enough to remember Pulsar watches? The first Pulsar was a brand of The Hamilton Watch Company (in nearby Lancaster PA) which developed the watch in early 1970. It had an 18 carat gold case, and was the world's first all-electronic digital watch, using a digital display with LEDs  A button was pressed to display the time. The first Pulsar initially sold for $2100. (The equivalent of $11,000 today.)  Eventually they manufactured watches which also monitored heartbeat and had a tiny little calculator.



And then there's the sheer beauty of gears, cogs, wheels and such.

The museum has hundreds of case clocks, pocket watches, table clocks, cuckoo clocks...if it told time, they've probably got an example of it. There's even a replica (non-working) of the Antikythera mechanism.  So, if you're ever in the south central Pennsylvania area, pay a visit. (Certain exhibits change, so check the site before you go.)    National Watch and Clock Museum



8 comments:

  1. I do remember the nerdy calculator watches! A big hit with Maths teachers :)
    Wagging Tales

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    1. Amazing when you think how expensive calculators were - now you can buy 'em for $2!

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  2. Sounds like you had a fun time. Great photos!

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    1. I had a great time...and great company :-)

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  3. I inherited my grandfather’s silver pocket watch. I always remember when I was little, he used to take the back off so I could see all the shiny cogs. I was absolutely fascinated by it.

    I have to say too, I’m really interested by that water clock.

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    1. Yeah, would make a wonderful project for someone to try and replicate it!

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  4. That's cool! Yes, I am old enough to remember pulsar watches. Bummer.

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    1. Ah, but think of the wisdom that comes with age...

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