People who make their own mechanical watches

Here's Chris Baraniuk on people who make their own mechanical watches, from scratch: an intricate and delicate traditional craft that is, for once, not lost to time.

He started reading forums, researching tools and materials, and checking out where parts could be acquired, such as cases, dials, hands, strap and movement. “It becomes like a big jigsaw puzzle, you try to work out what pieces will fit together,” he says.

Thanks in part to the availability of information over the web, many people just as curious as [Matthew] Wright have embarked on their own home-made watch projects. And some have even launched businesses as a result. But how easy is it to get started?

A quick hit on Google will bring up a wave of results that can kick things off for enthusiasts. There’s the Reddit Watch forum, the TimeZone Watch School, which offers courses via the web for a price, discussions on the WatchUSeek forum, and hundreds of YouTube videos aimed at makers.

People can buy kits for assembling watches or individual parts online with relative ease, too. This is the exact rabbit-hole that Wright fell down when he started researching.

“You see other people who’ve made little changes to watches, they’ve changed dials or whatever, and the next thing, I stumbled across websites where you can buy the cases completely empty,” he recalls.

Pictured here is a watch made by Mike Hamende, who also took the photo.

I once almost managed to put together a Lego kit and I'm still proud of myself. Read the rest

Witness the amazing beginnings of a 10,000-year clock build in this timelapse

Friends of mine at Because We Can (a local Bay Area "design build architecture" firm) shared some good news:

Congratulations to the Long Now Foundation on beginning installation of the 10,000 year clock. This is a must-see video showing publically for the first time just how far along they are on this bold, ambitious, and world-changing project.

Here's some info about the incredible clock from the Long Now site:

There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. This Clock is the first of many millennial Clocks the designers hope will be built around the world and throughout time. There is a second site for another Clock already purchased at the top of a mountain in eastern Nevada, a site surrounded by a very large grove of 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines.

Read the rest

Scientists figure out how to make and measure time crystals

Time crystals, a theoretical phase of matter proposed in 2012, can now be reliably created and measured, thanks to researchers at UC Berkeley. Above: a great primer on time crystals.

The discovery built on the work of several teams of researchers:

Time crystals repeat in time because they are kicked periodically, sort of like tapping Jell-O repeatedly to get it to jiggle, Yao said. The big breakthrough, he argues, is less that these particular crystals repeat in time than that they are the first of a large class of new materials that are intrinsically out of equilibrium, unable to settle down to the motionless equilibrium of, for example, a diamond or ruby.

“This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter,” Yao said. “For the last half-century, we have been exploring equilibrium matter, like metals and insulators. We are just now starting to explore a whole new landscape of non-equilibrium matter.”

Maybe the next step is the development of these time crystals:

Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals (UC Berkeley via EurekAlert) Read the rest

Who Time Magazine should award Person of the Year to

Donald Trump claims he turned down this year's "Person of the Year" award. Time denied it. Trump famously had a fake Time magazine cover featuring him on his wall, and is just as famously obsessed with the appointment, which he won in 2016.

Now, Time's not great at picking winners. So don't get your hopes up! They once specialized in dull-edged controversy but often retreat into daft cop-outs like, say, "anonymous Twitter accounts." Perhaps they'll just wring their hands into giving it to Trump anyway.

I'd like to see Time give it to this pair. You might well disgree with one or the other, but it would make Trump's head explode. Not that he's hard to get going. Pence would be finding chunks of his brain in the Oval Office for months. Read the rest

Who Americans spend their time with

Dan Kopf's Who Americans spend their time with is a chart—six of them—that show the number of hours a day people spend with n over the course of their lives. Together they tell a story. The sixth is a gut-punch. But not, perhaps, if you're introverted.

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NTP: the rebirth of ailing, failing core network infrastructure

Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a decade), and maintained almost entirely by one person. Read the rest

What people with "calendar synesthesia" reveal about how our minds deal with time

Synesthesia is the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. A synesthete might taste sounds or hear colors. Now, leading synesthesia researcher VS Rakmachandran at the University of California, San Diego is studying "calendar synesthetes" who see very clear images of calendars in their mind's eye when they think about months that have passed or are in the future. For example, according to New Scientist, one participant in the research "sees her months as occupying an asymmetrical “V” shape. Along this V, she sees each month written in Helvetica font." From New Scientist:

The idea that calendars are literally laid out in space for some people suggests that we are all hardwired to some extent to map time in space.

The concepts of time and numbers are something we acquired relatively recently in our evolutionary history, says Ramachandran, but the brain wouldn’t have had time to evolve a specific area to deal with it.

“Given the opportunistic nature of evolution, perhaps the most convenient way to represent the abstract idea of sequences of numbers and time might have been to map them onto a preexisting map of visual space, already present in the brain,” he says.

Indeed, imaging scans show connections between areas of the brain involved in numbers and those involved with mapping the world, memories and our sense of self. The team suggest that when these areas act together, they enable us to navigate mentally through space and time, while being firmly anchored in the present.

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Wrong things that programmers believe, a curated list

Kevin Deldycke has collected a "curated list" of "awesome falsehoods programmers believe in," sorted by subject into meta, business, dates and time, emails, geography, human identity, networks, phone numbers, postal addresses and software engineering. Read the rest

Today we gain a leap second. Why?

At 23:59:59 (UTC), time will "stop" as the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US and other official timekeepers around the world add a second to our clocks. They last did this in 2012. Read the rest

Why you're so busy

The Economist's feature on time-poverty is an absolute must-read, explaining the multi-factorial nature of the modern time crunch, which combines the equivalence of time and money (leading to leisure hours that are as crammed as possible in order to maximize their value), the precarity of the American workplace (meaning that affluent workers work longer hours), and the pace of electronically mediated communications (which makes any kind of refractory pause feel like a wasteful and dull eternity). Read the rest

Happy 42nd birthday, Leap Second!

The first atomic clock, at NIST. [Wikipedia]

It was on this date in 1972 that the first leap second was added to a day. Read the rest

Twins born a year apart on New Years eve

I was a midnight birth, born somewhere between 7/16/71 and 7/17/71 (the doctor let my mom choose my birthday). For New Years babies born around midnight, the choice is more momentous -- a whole year's difference! But what about New Years twin births? A woman in DC delivered her twins in two different years, three minutes apart. Read the rest

Long-form YouTube: videos of entire long-distance train journeys

YouTube has been an existence-proof of forms of video that were lurking in potentia, unable to come into existence due to limitations of the distribution channel. The two-to-three-minute video has now been firmly established as a genre (with the six-second video hot on its heels), but there's plenty of room at the long end of the scale. Case in point: subculture of YouTubers who post full-length train journeys, hours and hours' worth -- and if that's not long-form enough, how about 134-hour sea crossings?

Given the modern vogue/panic about short-reads being mere "linkblogging" and the practice of spinning out a few hundred words into a "serious, long-form journalism" wheeze that is split across eight or more screens, this may just be the video form for our age (and please let it be a short one!). Read the rest

Museum of Four in the Morning

"Four in the morning" appears with strange frequency in movies, TV, art, and culture. The Museum of Four In The Morning collects such references. Submit yours! Read the rest

Enormous timescales made graspable by graphs

Wait But Why has a fantastic series of graphs that aim to help us wrap our heads around the enormous timescales on which forces like history, biology, geography and astronomy operate. By carefully building up graphs that show the relationship between longer and longer timescales, the series provides a moment's worth of emotional understanding of the otherwise incomprehensible. Read the rest

Christian Marclay's "The Clock" video montage

Pioneering sound/video collage artist Christian Marclay's "The Clock" (2010) is a 24-hour montage of appropriated film clips related to time.

Grand Central Station's clocks are a minute off

Here's The Atlantic on how New York's busiest train station helps commuters get there in time: by giving them an extra minute: "The idea is that passengers rushing to catch trains they're about to miss can actually be dangerous -- to themselves, and to each other. So conductors will pull out of the station exactly one minute after their trains' posted departure times." Read the rest

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