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A Belated Birthday Wish for John Harrison

Born 24 March 1693,  John Harrison’s chronometers saved many a sailor from running aground.  With an accurate clock, sailors were at last able to calculate longitude accurately.

Time is to clock as mind is to brain. The clock or watch somehow contains the time. And yet time refuses to be bottled up like a genie stuffed in a lamp. Whether it flows as sand or turns on wheels within wheels, time escapes irretrievably, while we watch. Even when the bulbs of the hourglass shatter, when darkness withholds the shadow from the sundial, when the mainspring winds down so far that the clock hands hold still as death, time itself keeps on. The most we can hope a watch to do is mark that progress. And since time sets its own tempo, like a heartbeat or an ebb tide, timepieces don’t really keep time. They just keep up with it, if they’re able.

Sobel, Dava (2010-07-05). Longitude (pp. 34-35). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Kindle Edition.


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  1. Wiggy Undertone Wiggy Undertone May 29, 2013

    Inspired by Mr. Harrison’s clocks,  I’ve built a wooden clock based on his H-1  design.  It’s from a kit. 


      I am quite pleased with how it turned out.  The gears are all wood,  CNC cut from plywood sheets. I did have to cut the brass pieces, and had to do a lot of finish work on the wood, but the kit made it all very easy!

    The weight was made from a 2″ steel pipe filled with molten lead.  I then made a wood shell around the pipe.  I don’t recommend melting lead unless you take lots of precautions and don’t have any children in your home!

    It runs, and is not very accurate yet, but I’m working on that :)



    • Caesar Osterham Caesar Osterham May 29, 2013

      Where’d you get the kit?  I want one of these for my RL office.

  2. Wiggy Undertone Wiggy Undertone May 29, 2013

    Here is a link to the video on the web site, which is where I puchased the kit.  I warn you though, it is pricey…  It took a few weeks to talk myself into buying it!


  3. Serafina Puchkina Serafina Puchkina May 30, 2013

    Well done, sir! 




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