Within a mountain in west Texas, Jeff Bezos and a team of engineers, inventors, and computer scientists are building a self-maintaining clock. Danny Hillis, a computer scientist, came up with the idea in the early ’90s and built an 8-foot-tall working prototype. Bezos has partnered with Hillis by investing 42 million dollars to the vision and construction of the 10,000-year mountain clock. The clock is being buried in a hollowed-out chamber 500 feet deep in the Sierra Diablo Mountain range in Texas on Bezos property.
Unlike other clocks that measure time in hours, minutes, and seconds, the 10,000-year clock measures time in centuries and millennia. It will be built to tick once a year, the century hand will move every 100 years, and there will be a cuckoo that will come out every 1,000 years up to 10,000. For this to happen, Bezos and Hillis plan to build the clock to hold longevity. This is why Bezos and the team picked a mountain in west Texas. The location is high, dry, and has small temperature variance. The material will be made with marine-grade titanium, ceramic, and stone. Without these items, the clock could, over time and exposure, become inoperable.
Hillis’s first prototype is featured at the London Science Museum for anyone to see. He was able to finish the test version right before the New Years’ Eve of 1999. The 10,000-year clock prototype chimed at the stroke of midnight twice to bring in the year 2000, the new millennia. This was witnessed in the Presidio, San Francisco by a small crowd and inspired the clock being built in west Texas.
Hillis has made no promises that the clock will be completed in his lifetime, but he co-founded a non-profit organization “The Long Now Foundation” who titled the project “The Clock of the Long Now.” The goal behind the project is to influence the public to look to the future. The clock is a symbol to think beyond the present and plan to keep the clock ticking beyond this generation.
When the clock is complete, it will be a 500-feet-tall mechanism. It will keep track of five different kinds of time and will retain accuracy by synchronizing to the sun. The first type of time it will tell is the Pendulum time, as well as the Corrected Star Time, Uncorrected Solar Time, Orrery Time, and Displayed Solar Time. For more information visit The Long Now Foundation.