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The Clock in the Mountain
June 18, 2011 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Kevin Kelly describes how a clock designed to run for 10,000 years will function and the efforts behind its creation and building.
posted by reenum (73 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
I admire this urge to create something permanent, or at least as close as these people can craft. I don't understand why the article asks about mankind's responsibility to civilization, as if it's at all related. This is interesting as an art piece and it stands on its own. Art is worth a lot for its own sake and it annoys me when people try to link any great effort to something else they define as "worthwhile."

I'm moderately drunk and apologize if that made no sense. Anyway, interesting article.
posted by empyrean at 10:34 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Previously and previously. (Might be new content, though.)
posted by ryanrs at 10:35 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know where it was posted first, but here it is on the Long Now website.

10,000 Year Clock.net

Long Bets

previouslier

But I hadn't seen this article before, so thanks.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:37 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It certainly helps those of us who cannot even remember where we put our watch each night.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:43 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is in the news because they just got funding (courtesy of Jef Bezos) to excavate the mountain and build the thing.

I really love this project. I really dig the "faith in humanity" aspect of it all, although my post-modernist conscience keeps scoffing at the hubris of the idea. I will probably make more than one pilgrimages to see this thing during my life.

One interesting thing I noticed in the link is that they are soliciting ideas for "animations" (displays / chimes / cuckoos) for the 10 year anniversary chamber. The best idea I could come up with was a strip chart display which would run for a few minutes every 10 years and display the last 10 years of some clock statistic such as num. of visitors/windings, average temperature, etc. That would be a fun design project, what with the "mechanical memory" requirement. Does Mefi have any other ideas?

The Long Now Blog is worth reading too.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:56 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that it corrects itself by measuring the length of day and night. I do wonder how resilient the sensor is if it gets blocked by something, which will probably happen over 10,000 years.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:15 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's interesting that it corrects itself by measuring the length of day and night. I do wonder how resilient the sensor is if it gets blocked by something, which will probably happen over 10,000 years.

Well shit, if they're going to use sensors, why not use the atomic clock's radio...

Well I still really like this.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:39 PM on June 18, 2011


It's interesting that it corrects itself by measuring the length of day and night.

From what I understand, I think you've confused two separate things. The clock powers itself using the temperature difference between day and night.

The clock corrects itself using two different mechanisms. One is reliable but inaccurate. It will always tick but the accumulated errors would eventually cause the time to be wrong.

The second, the one discussed in the article, is unreliable but accurate. Only at noon will the sun shine in the right spot to trigger the clock to reset to noon. But the clock won't always "see" noon, which is why it is unreliable.

The question is, and I don't know the answer, "How much error is in the unreliable but inaccurate mechanism?" If it accumulates less than 12 hours of error in a 1,000 year period then the clock would probably be pretty safe. But if it accumulates 12 hours in a year, then things wouldn't be so great.
posted by sbutler at 11:44 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Make that "How much error is in the reliable but inaccurate mechanism?"
posted by sbutler at 11:46 PM on June 18, 2011


Also, other articles I've read about this clock don't claim as a goal unattended running for 10,000 years. They fully expect that humans will need to drop by once and awhile, fix things up, and dust things off. So I think the issue of a blocked sensor or window is something they expect future visitors to be on the watch for. Certainly if I climbed up to see things clock and noticed a tarp covering the window I'd climb a little more and fix it!
posted by sbutler at 11:48 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is interesting as an art piece and it stands on its own.

It's not intended to be art. It's a work of a group of people trying to encourage humanity to have a longer perspective. The problems you deal with when you start to consider such long timespans are very different, and considering them puts our day to day struggles into a much different perspective.

Well shit, if they're going to use sensors, why not use the atomic clock's radio...

The sensor is a strip of metal at the end of a tube that's struck by the sun every day at noon. The sun heats it, causing it to move and triggering the mechanical synchronization mechanism. It's not foolproof, but it's about as simple and reliable as it could possibly be.
posted by fatbird at 11:51 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


How exactly are the irradiated cockroaches going to use this?
posted by orthogonality at 11:53 PM on June 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why the article asks about mankind's responsibility to civilization, as if it's at all related.

The clock is really a thought exercise and totem to represent the ideas of The Long Now, and to help illustrate what 10,000 long thinking and planning resembles. They wanted something that was a self-descriptive tool, aesthetically pleasing as well as an exercise in designing, planning and building something that would/could last and function for 10,000 years.

A similar functional art project from The Long Now Foundation is The Rosetta Project which is a way to store a dense amount of long lasting information in a small physical space without complicated playback schemes.

They're trying to point out how short our memory and planning is. 10,000 years in geologic or astronomical terms is very brief and short, but to us we're challenged to plan more than a generation or 20-30 into the future even with the tools of history and collective memory.

This is important thinking and an important message because we already have problems that exceed 10,000 years of being a problem. Nuclear waste storage dumps, for example. Or how to prevent the next very large asteroid strike when, not if, it happens. Or maybe we should keep an eye on mega caldera like Yellowstone. Or how to deal with problems like global warming and climate change in general.
posted by loquacious at 11:53 PM on June 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don't understand why the article asks about mankind's responsibility to civilization, as if it's at all related.
It's kind of the whole point of this project, though. The clock was actually one of the inspirations for Neil Stephenson's most recent book.

That said, This clock has mostly been running since 1864, with almost no human intervention at all. It's powered by changes in temperature during the day (although some days the temperature doesn't change enough, and it requires people to set the time again, I guess)
They fully expect that humans will need to drop by once and awhile, fix things up, and dust things off.
Yeah, they could build a simple digital clock with battery and a solar panel if they'd wanted. (The panel would also tell you when the sun was rising every day too, so it could keep time accurately)
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on June 18, 2011


*erects sundial*

Ta-da!
posted by Sys Rq at 12:03 AM on June 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


I know that they're hoping the clock becomes a shrine of sorts, so that they don't have to worry about the estate. Still, the "short term" thinking part of me really hopes they're putting some money into an endowment, creating a maintenance agency, and possibly even getting special zoning laws passed by the state to protect the clock from profiteers.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:05 AM on June 19, 2011


*erects sundial*

OK, you got the "tick once a day" part done. Now how about the "chime every century" and "cuckoo every millennia" requirements?
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:07 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


*erects sundial*

I can't decide whether this comment is full of win or complete fail.

Regardless, way to embody the delightfully snarky side of metafilter.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:09 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It should be a giant cuckoo clock with the designer's mummified corpse popping out every hundred years and Mummy Eno with a scythe chasing Mummy Hillis out one door and in another.
posted by pracowity at 12:10 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


A sundial won't help at night.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 AM on June 19, 2011


Metafilter: I'm moderately drunk and apologize if that made no sense.
posted by honeydew at 12:23 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a work of a group of people trying to encourage humanity to have a longer perspective. The problems you deal with when you start to consider such long timespans are very different, and considering them puts our day to day struggles into a much different perspective.

That seems about as fine a definition of art available. To encourage humanity to have a different perspective and to put our day-to-day struggles into a much different perspective? Isn't that the kind of the point of art?
posted by stet at 12:33 AM on June 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


A sundial won't help at night.

I have been thinking about this - my best idea so far is to erect a complementary structure, probably a circle of stone slabs marking specific positions of astronomical significance. I'm not sure it can be made accurate or detailed enough to tell time on a daily basis, but you can definitely mark key events such as equinoxes.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:39 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


A sundial won't help at night.

So in the middle of the night, when you want to check the time, you just climb into a pitch-black mountain cavern, grope for the 'display time' switch, point your eyes in the general direction you assume the clock face to be, and...?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 AM on June 19, 2011


This clock chimes with the sound of 10,000 engineers' erections.
posted by mhjb at 1:20 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting to compare with the Yucca Mountain warning for nuclear waste disposal. When contemplating a warning sign that will last ten thousand years, it is instructive to consider how many of them we have ourselves ignored.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:49 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder whether it will take more than a century for the raw materials to become worth stealing.
posted by pulposus at 2:37 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MteaFilter: like a crude thought trying to form inside a dim unlit brain.
posted by Splunge at 4:34 AM on June 19, 2011


This is a beautiful idea.

I have a feeling that this place will become something of a humanist Mecca, or even a rite of passage for some families.

Love it.
posted by flippant at 4:34 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not intended to be art. It's a work of a group of people trying to encourage humanity to have a longer perspective. The problems you deal with when you start to consider such long timespans are very different, and considering them puts our day to day struggles into a much different perspective.

Yes, indeed. The whole Native American philosophy of considering the impact of actions upon the seventh generation after the actions are taken actually is a pretty wise stance overall. Imagine a lot of the problems with pollution and stuff we'd never have gotten into if that kind of thinking were part of the mainstream mindset.
posted by hippybear at 4:43 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll give it until 2033 before the metal scavengers take it away.
posted by sammyo at 4:49 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's actually much easier to tell the time at night than at day. During the daytime you can only measure the sun's position very roughly unless you have a precision instrument and some training. At night you have lots of stars, and it's not too hard to learn which ones set at what time. Also, the stars appear to rotate around the celestial pole and rise and set at the same points each day. The sun's apparent rising and setting point changes over the year.

Anyway, nice article.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 AM on June 19, 2011


It's not intended to be art. It's a work of a group of people trying to encourage humanity to have a longer perspective.

How is that not art?
posted by fairmettle at 5:03 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be cool if the clock had an alarm, so you could set it for, like, 2783 years from now. And when it went it went off, it would be cool if there was a snooze function, so you could tap a little button on the side of the clock and tell it not to bother you for another 50 years.

There's no good reason to get up 50 years before you have to.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:04 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


This Clock in the Mountain is being funded and built on property owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Bezos is also very active in designing the full experience of the Clock.

So... the founder of an internet e-tailer built on impulse buys and started during the pre-millenial US stock market bubble wants to remind us to think "long-term." Isn't that ironic.... hey, I know where you can get a ton of scrap metal in West Texas.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:03 AM on June 19, 2011


...hey, I know where you can get a ton of scrap metal in West Texas.

Yep, there going to need to round up everybody involved and bury them inside the thing. The Helenistic Greeks used to make public sculptures of bronze but the only ones that we can see in museums today were found at the bottom of the sea. At some point over 100 centuries, people will need swords more than statues.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:10 AM on June 19, 2011


Brian Eno would be one of my favourite humans.
posted by the noob at 6:47 AM on June 19, 2011


but it's so...mechanical.
posted by lodurr at 6:52 AM on June 19, 2011


How is that not art?

That's a fair question IMO. I agree that it's not intended to be art; but then, I also think the distinction between "art" and "life" is highly artificial.
posted by lodurr at 6:54 AM on June 19, 2011


The Helenistic Greeks used to make public sculptures of bronze but the only ones that we can see in museums today were found at the bottom of the sea.

So it's important that the thing is remote and not easily fooled with. It's best for it if it can be forgotten about, somewhere in Deep Time, to give it the chance to be rediscovered by a people with decent intentions.

The Yucca Mountain warning project concepts were intensely haunting to me, but very few of them would have actually done any good. There's no human work that won't interest someone enough to dig it up. If humans stumbled into a cave and found a set of pictographs from 10,000 years ago that very clearly expressed DANGER !!!!!!! TERROR HORROR, there's no way that site wouldn't be crawling with archaeologists. (Hell, I'd go.) Curiosity is simply too human. The way to protect something either valuable or dangerous is to make the surrounding landscape boring and useless.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:13 AM on June 19, 2011


"How much error is in the unreliable but inaccurate mechanism?"

I fail to see what Thomas Friedman has to do with this clock.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:33 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's an idea from the Long Now folk that I love: encourage people to write the current year as '02011', instead of '2011'. Though there's a risk of it looking more like a ZIP code than a year (especially to the people of Bellingham, MA), it changes how you think about time. Each new year, instead of being exceptional and unprecedented, becomes part of an on-going progression.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:00 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Each new year, instead of being exceptional and unprecedented, becomes part of an on-going progression.

Does it mean that I'm somehow strange if I've always thought of each new year as 'part of an on-going progression'? Because I'm kind of not seeing how that part is enhanced by increasing the number of digits such that we can express one hundred thousand versus ten thousand years of data-counting without changing the length of the Year field.

Now, tell me they're encouraging the PHP team to add a YYYYY mask for date(), and I'll be impressed. A little. Maybe.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on June 19, 2011


Related: I highly recommend "Clock of Ages," the first chapter from Group Theory in the Bedroom, which is about the astronomical clock in Strasbourg Cathedral.
posted by danb at 8:10 AM on June 19, 2011


Building a henge, are we?
posted by ColdChef at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


sbutler writes "So I think the issue of a blocked sensor or window is something they expect future visitors to be on the watch for. Certainly if I climbed up to see things clock and noticed a tarp covering the window I'd climb a little more and fix it!"

This is the big weakness. You'd remove the tarp. The Banksys of the world would etch some street art.

Sys Rq writes "erects sundial"
Ta-da!


At a minimum you'd need a way of protecting that sundial while still allowing light to do it's part. A non trivial problem. And a sundial isn't going to keep track of what year it is.

hippybear writes "The whole Native American philosophy of considering the impact of actions upon the seventh generation after the actions are taken actually is a pretty wise stance overall."

There isn't any opverarching Native American philosophy any more than there is an Africa philosophy. And numerous First Nations people acted in long term destructive ways. The low impact of First Nations decisions was mostly means limited.

Joe in Australia writes "It's actually much easier to tell the time at night than at day. During the daytime you can only measure the sun's position very roughly unless you have a precision instrument and some training. At night you have lots of stars, and it's not too hard to learn which ones set at what time. Also, the stars appear to rotate around the celestial pole and rise and set at the same points each day. The sun's apparent rising and setting point changes over the year."

Over a period of ten thousands years the stars don't rise and and set at the same time every day or even during the same day for several reasons the biggest being general precession.
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a vanity / thymos project, just like the pyramids. The right wing gets the Fox propaganda empire and the left gets this.
posted by warbaby at 8:38 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting to compare with the Yucca Mountain warning for nuclear waste disposal. When contemplating a warning sign that will last ten thousand years, it is instructive to consider how many of them we have ourselves ignored.

Not enough stink lines.
posted by gjc at 9:12 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fine, call it art if you want. That misses the point, which I was contradicting from the moderately drunk first poster:

I don't understand why the article asks about mankind's responsibility to civilization, as if it's at all related.

The intent of the clocks is very much about mankind's responsibility to civilization (i.e., "are we being good ancestors?"). To call it art and say it stands alone is to perfectly miss the point of the clocks. It's not meant to stand alone, it's meant to remind us of the longer perspective and to consider the effect we have on future generations that are far beyond our normal horizons.
posted by fatbird at 10:10 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


There isn't any opverarching Native American philosophy any more than there is an Africa philosophy.

Of course there isn't. I don't believe that there's anything monolithic about the people who were living in the New World before Whitey got here. But the fact that I didn't cite a specific Native American tribe doesn't mean that it isn't a worldview which many of them here were using which is pretty much NOT part of the Eurocentric approach to living, and there was nothing wrong with how I stated what I said.

Anyway, it comes from the Iroquois, probably. Although both the Apache and the Navajo have similar philosophies, not to mention the Hopi who have their own set of rules they use to approach major decisions.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 AM on June 19, 2011


Yep, there going to need to round up everybody involved and bury them inside the thing. The Helenistic Greeks used to make public sculptures of bronze but the only ones that we can see in museums today were found at the bottom of the sea. At some point over 100 centuries, people will need swords more than statues.

One of the cool things about the pyramids is that they were often looted while they were being built. Maybe we have more reverence for our pharoahs than the ancient egyptians.

When Jeff Bezos dies he will be plasticized and placed in a special tomb at the top of the robot-milled stairs and designed to look like the amazon.com homepage with a check inside price on his preserved corpse. But, whosoever disturbs his rest shall instantly find all of their stock options devalued... and be forced to pay the IRS on deferred compensation. The plasticized corpse of Bezos will then play a recording asking you to check inside your Gold Box TM.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:08 AM on June 19, 2011


I can't help but wonder why they went with complexity over simplicity. Simple things last because they are less prone to error. The sun dial idea is better, made out common granite, rough-hewn blocks in a circle like Stonehenge and some even older Neolithic sites that still exist.
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 AM on June 19, 2011


I can't help but wonder why they went with complexity over simplicity. Simple things last because they are less prone to error.

They'd agree with you quite strongly. Their blog is interesting for its discussion of design decisions and their constant rejection of complex, modern-day technology in favour of simpler and more robust choices. However, their objectives require a minimal complexity.

The sun dial idea is better

A sun dial doesn't tell you the date, month, or year, or the positions of the stars, or play a unique melody every time it chimes. And frankly, the message of the clocks is lost with something as simple as a sun dial. Part of the awe you're supposed to feel is that the clocks are impressive both for durability and for engineering.

In a way, the overall aim of the project is to build something interestingly complex that's as plausibly robust as the sundial. We're very good at building complicated things now. It's building complicated things that really last that we're only starting to consider.
posted by fatbird at 11:42 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of the awe you're supposed to feel is that the clocks are impressive both for durability and for engineering.

Kind of like the pyramids in Egypt or Mexico, or Machu Picchu, or Angkor Wat. Only those things haven't been around really for that long compared to how this clock is supposed to last.
posted by hippybear at 11:56 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't understand it unless its supposed to like, reset the clocks after the Mad Max time.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2011


As long as the sun shines and night comes, the Clock can keep time itself, without human help.

Well, we know one possible failure mode.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 PM on June 19, 2011


A sun dial doesn't tell you the date, month, or year, or the positions of the stars, or play a unique melody every time it chimes.

Well, not at an affordable price. You could absolutely make something that was essentially a sundial that did all those things. Actually, the only really really expensive part would be causing it to make sounds.

When I first heard about this, I thought "cool, we'll have some out of the box thinking." But what we got is more robust parts, and a requirement for human maintenance. I don't recall that being a part of the original concept, though of course I could be remembering wrongly. I suppose you could rationalize the human maintenance requirement as something that would focus people on the existence of the clock, but then what it is is just an artifact that's designed to preserve a human function. We know from looking at religions that are less than 2,000 years old that you're likely to end up with some really radical changes in that social function over time.

There are a lot of things to admire about the Long Now foundation and the clock project and the rosetta disk project, etc. But there's also a lot of perniciously, arrogantly naive thinking that goes into any enterprise in which either Kevin Kelly or Steward Brand is involved, and when you put them together, the mystical self-important left-libertarian factor goes through the roof. I've gotten a lot of good ideas from reading Brand or his publications over the years, but I would not pay the man to make any predictions more complex than "will the Starbucks at the corner of Oxford and Monroe be solvent this time next year." (As for Kelly, I'd pay him for the answer, and then invest in whatever he told me wouldn't happen.)
posted by lodurr at 4:39 PM on June 19, 2011


There's an idea from the Long Now folk that I love: encourage people to write the current year as '02011', instead of '2011'. Though there's a risk of it looking more like a ZIP code than a year (especially to the people of Bellingham, MA), it changes how you think about time. Each new year, instead of being exceptional and unprecedented, becomes part of an on-going progression.
posted by benito.strauss at 008:00 AM on June 19 [1 favorite +] [!]

posted by sebastienbailard at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2011


Well shit, if they're going to use sensors, why not use the atomic clock's radio...

Um, because then it wouldn't be a 10,000-year clock, but a "until the atomic clock goes offline" clock, hal_c_on.


sbutler: Also, other articles I've read about this clock don't claim as a goal unattended running for 10,000 years. They fully expect that humans will need to drop by once and awhile, fix things up, and dust things off.

So... it's no more a 10,000-year clock than Big Ben or my watch?


Mitheral: And a sundial isn't going to keep track of what year it is.
...
Over a period of ten thousands years the stars don't rise and and set at the same time every day or even during the same day for several reasons the biggest being general precession.

I was going to explain to you how a sundial can in fact keep track of what year it is... but you explained it yourself, ironically.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:14 PM on June 19, 2011


Prediction: Looted and vandalized by unknown persons on 4 wheelers less than three months after opening.
posted by humanfont at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2011


aeschenkarnos, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project is discussed in Gregory Benford's nonfiction book, Deep Time. He also mentions the Long Now Foundation's plans for a clock, but doesn't go into detail.
posted by Monochrome at 9:33 PM on June 19, 2011


IAmBroom writes "I was going to explain to you how a sundial can in fact keep track of what year it is... but you explained it yourself, ironically."

Can you explain it to me because I'm not getting it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 PM on June 19, 2011


It's interesting that it corrects itself by measuring the length of day and night. I do wonder how resilient the sensor is if it gets blocked by something, which will probably happen over 10,000 years.

I recall reading a science fiction short story (would have been either Heinlein, Ballard, or Clarke) where some villain guy escapes justice by sealing himself deep in a cave in a mountain range, cryogentically freezing himself, and setting it to a timer that registers the change from night to day, only for an unfortunate landslide caused by an errant missile to block the sensor. Don't have time right now, but I'll have a look through my bookshelf and track it down if anyone is interested.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 11:37 PM on June 19, 2011


I can't help but wonder why they went with complexity over simplicity. Simple things last because they are less prone to error. The sun dial idea is better, made out common granite, rough-hewn blocks in a circle like Stonehenge and some even older Neolithic sites that still exist.

It's funny you mention Stonehenge. There's still a lot of debate over exactly what Stonehenge means. An astronomical guide? A calendar? A religious alter? All or none of the above? We could build a modern Stonehenge but there's no guarantee that in 5,000 years people will know what we built it for. A big, sophisticated clock engineered to last can't be easily mistaken for anything else.

I like to sometimes think about what might happen to this project in a post apocalyptic world. People would start out as simple engineers and curators who run gift shops. But after the collapse of civilization, over hundreds of years without anything more important to do, they become guardians of the clock. Until, 1,000 years later, you get a monastic commune that sees it as their sacred duty to protect this ancient mechanical structure.

The Order of the Long Now would be a sufficiently mystical name for such a group!
posted by sbutler at 2:20 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hello, I'm David McGahan writes "I recall reading a science fiction short story (would have been either Heinlein, Ballard, or Clarke) where some villain guy escapes justice by sealing himself deep in a cave in a mountain range"

This story sounds very familiar though I remember it being possibly world dictator who is suffering from an incurable illness but was assured by his doctors that they'd have a solution in a 100 years or so. Probably a common theme though I don't think it was by RAH.
posted by Mitheral at 3:24 AM on June 20, 2011


Well shit, if they're going to use sensors, why not use the atomic clock's radio...

Um, because then it wouldn't be a 10,000-year clock, but a "until the atomic clock goes offline" clock, hal_c_on.


Same thing, dude.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:26 AM on June 20, 2011


I think this is stupid.

But there's a certain poetry to time being wasted on a clock.
posted by dickasso at 3:34 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well that was easy, first book I looked in.

It was by Arthur C. Clarke, a story called 'Exile of the Eons', and does some kind of dictator called the Master, who losing a war, decides to put himself in a state of suspended animation for a 100 years (what could go wrong?), so maybe the same story Mitheral, or just as likely a common theme (i.e Rip Van Winkle)
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:56 AM on June 20, 2011


'does involve some kind of dictator' even
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:57 AM on June 20, 2011


How long till someone rips this thing apart for scrap? My guess: <10k years.

Its funny how they deify it. What an odd religion.
posted by no_moniker at 7:18 AM on June 20, 2011


Its funny how they deify it. What an odd religion.

I think you've compiled your definitions for 'deify' and 'religion' using some bad data.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:59 AM on June 20, 2011


Also, other articles I've read about this clock don't claim as a goal unattended running for 10,000 years. They fully expect that humans will need to drop by once and awhile, fix things up, and dust things off.

So... it's no more a 10,000-year clock than Big Ben or my watch?


Um... well, do Big Ben or your watch have the ability to mark off years extending 100 centuries in to the future? Most calendar watches I've seen have a year dial which might last for a while, but certainly is designed to run out of numbers for years within a lifetime or two of the watch's manufacture. But perhaps you have a particularly awesome watch.

And the last time I saw Big Ben, it didn't even display the day of the week or the date. So aside from keeping 12-hour time, I don't know how it's supposed to be a 10,000 year clock in any sense of the word.
posted by hippybear at 4:03 PM on June 20, 2011


And the last time I saw Big Ben, it didn't even display the day of the week or the date. So aside from keeping 12-hour time, I don't know how it's supposed to be a 10,000 year clock in any sense of the word.

Water levels. Just you wait.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


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