Importance of Time and Clocks

The clock is one of the most important devices of all civilization. It is simply a gadget that we use to tell the exact time of day. Its name was borrowed from a Greek term that meant the ringing of a bell. Now since clocks would make some sort of sound after every hour, it was dubbed with this name.

We are living in a civilized time that has put such a heavy importance on time. Everything is dependent on it. That is how important therefore that the clock is. Due to this importance there are clocks all around us. In a developed area you cannot walk for five minutes before you see a clock somewhere.

The clocks we have in our society today all have a common ancestor. Their common ancestor is the sun dial. It would cast the sun’s shadow around its fixed centre to show us the time. The sun dial had a huge disadvantage that today’s clocks do not have. It only worked during the day.

The water clock came soon after the sun dial. As a matter of fact it is not known exactly when both these clocks were first invented. Let us just say that it was a long time ago. The sun dial was used to set the water clock which would then tell fairly accurate time. Yes, even through the night.

The pendulum clock brought a fresh sense of accurate timing in the world of clocks. It would rarely lose time like the water clock. It therefore became a huge success. I am sure we have all at one time or the other seen one. Many of us just know it as the grandfather clock.

The next evolution in clocks came with the electrical era. The clocks would have electric motors wound electromagnetically that would run for days. There are many forms of electrical clocks still in use today. One does not have to worry about winding them every six hours.

With the introduction of electricity into the world of clock manufacture, came even further advancements. There was the invention of the batteries. The two together led the inventors to digital clocks. These were clocks that did not need mechanically moving components. They are now the most common clocks in the outdoors of most urban places.

The alarm clock is another important development of the simple clock. You set the time that you want to wake up and it will go off at that time. There are very old models that were highly mechanical but today we have even digital ones that will wake you up to your favorite tune.

We may categorize the alarm clock with the auditory clock. A lot of people call the auditory clock the talking clock. You just press a button and it says the time out loud for you. This is very good for example when you are asleep and do not want to get up and switch on the lights.

This last one is not literally a clock. It is symbolically a clock. It is called the doomsday clock. It counts the threats to human existence in the number of minutes before the clock strikes twelve. These threats are for example the nuclear weapons we build. There will be total human annihilation when the doomsday clock strikes midnight.

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A Short History on Clocks

A question that could have been asked for thousands of years is, "What time is it?" Throughout history many devices have been invented to answer this question. From sundials to atomic clocks, mankind has pursued this quest.

In the earliest recorded times, the position of the sun in the sky wave the best indication of passing time. When the sun was directly overhead, it was midday. During night-time and cloudy times it was impossible to calculate the time of day using this method. People started using the shadow cast by an object in the sun to become more precise and to save their eyesight as they did not have to look up to the sun anymore. Egyptians are credited as being the first to construct larges obelisks to cast a shadow in about 3500BC. By 1500BC, refined sundials were in use. Another invention during these early times was the hourglass using water as the medium. These too had their limitations, particularly in calibration and changing temperatures. Sand was only introduced into the glass hours in about 700AD.

Mechanical clocks were first invented in the 14th century. These timepieces used springs, levers and escapements and generally had no hands or faces, but simply chimed a bell on the hour. A little later the faces and hands appeared.

In the 15th century, coiled springs were developed and the size of clocks decreased significantly. It was also the coil spring that enabled the wrist watch to be later invented.

The clocks till this time were not very accurate, however the invention of the pendulum clock in 1656, by Christiaan Huygens, allowed accuracy to come into play. His pendulum clock was accurate to within one minute each day, rather than the fifteen minute accuracy of the earlier spring driven clocks.

Early in the next century, the British Parliament offered a substantial reward for someone to solve the problem of accurately defending longitude. There were many theories on how this could be done, and the two dominant theories relied on either the stars or an accurate timepiece. John Harrison will eventually win the prize after a number of tries with a clock that lost only five seconds on six and a half weeks at sea.

During the 19th century with the industrial revolution in full swing, many advances were made enabling mass production of timepieces. The price of clocks came down significantly and they become common use items among the ordinary people. Watches were mainly pocket watches.

It was not until 1884 that most countries agreed to time zones, with clear relations between them. They are still in place today. "Greenwich Mean Time" is still considered by many as the place where time starts.

Wrist watches were only worn by ladies at first, but during WW1 men started wearing them and it was not long before wristwatches become more common than pocket watches. It has been said that the soldiers found wristwatches much more durable than pocket watches during that war.

Since the 1960's most watches are now powered by a "quartz movement" rather than a spring movement. These watches are significantly cheaper and are very accurate. GPS units, fish finders, mobile phones and many other interesting gadgets can now be built into wristwatches. Where will it end?

There will no doubt be further advances in man's quest to answer the question, "What time is it" more accurately.

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Large Digital Wall Clocks

Large numbers and easy to read. The automatic time keeper works well so therefore is always on perfect time. The temperature readout (which is why I purchased it) works well and seems to be very accurate. I have owned a La Crosse weather station for about 4 years now and it works great so therefore I thought another smaller indoor unit for the baby’s room would be a good idea. The first one Amazon shipped to me didn’t work so I went online, filled out the quick form and within four days there was another one at my door. The second one worked fine. The first one was shipped out for free. I’ve never had to return an item to Amazon and I must say it was very easy and fast.

Positives

– Huge and high contrast display, easy to read from far across a room

– Receiver is more delicate ( getting atomic clock signal immediately and in the day, when my old one was only correcting at night ( Atomic clock RF signals travel better at night ) about 10′ from the closest window ). BTW, if you want to get the right clock straight away and during the day, go near a window with clear view to the outside and press clock sync button on the back for manual sync.

– Straightforward to follow instruction, and the web address for the instruction is revealed right next to the battery compartment ( handy, since we need to refer to instruction when we change the batteries )

– Straightforward timezone setting ( one button to toggle four USA time sectors ) — more on this on Neutral ( below ) also.

– Daylight Savings Time reflects the right calendar period — some of the older products somehow doesn’t understand the new sunlight savings time period in USA, but this one does.

– If you care about accuracy of the temperature display, mine was correct within 0.5 oF, compared to my lab instrument — your clock’s accuracy may alter:- ).

Negative

– Instruction isn’t clear for the 1st initialization. Could only decide on the timezone AFTER the clock searched for the Atomic clock signal… (a couple of minutes), but the instruction doesn’t say that. I thought I had a faulty unit initially. Better instruction needed.

Neutral

– Make sure that you plan to use this clock in continental USA (ONLY the four time zones, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific). But then again, I don’t believe you might receive the atomic clock signal if you are outside of these sections in North America.

Beneficial Hints

– Fold up the instruction pamphlet and tape it close to the battery compartment on the back — you’ll be glad you did in about 18+ months.

– I could be a huge fan of Atomic clocks — one in nearly every room in my home — and revealed that almost all of the external temp sensor version wishes battery changes every six month or so, while the non-external temp version, like this one, needs battery change each 1224 months (all using alkaline batteries). So I use chargeable for the clocks with external temp sensor (both the clock and the sensor) now, and alkaline batteries otherwise. I am a big fan of these large, digital wall clocks and will be buying these for older relatives who can’t see as well as they used too!!!

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