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It's solar noon, do you know what time your clock says?
August 29, 2011 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Saturday August 27 Bill Nye dedicated a solar noon clock he designed. The clock is embedded in the facade of Rhodes Hall. At Solar Noon, when the Sun culminates, that is, reaches its highest point in the sky, the sun-shaped feature will light up. It is the marrying of mechanical and electrical engineering with astronomy. What could be better?
posted by IvoShandor (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
And Rhodes Hall is at Cornell University, which I failed to point out.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2011


Although the Electric Time Company of Medfield, Mass., constructed the new clock in Rhodes, Louge said that Nye designed and Cornell engineering students built the “microcontroller” that calculates the exact time of the solar noon.

Electronics?? Pffff.
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2011


God knows they need it in Ithaca, where they might not see the Sun for months! ;)

Neat project.

Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
posted by BrashTech at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


A solar noon clock installed on the back of a building where no one will see it in a place where you don't see the sun for nine months out of the year, and during the three months when it is shining, everyone leaves town? Sounds like the Cornell I know...

This can join the relatively useless sundial in the Engineering Quad, which looks like this on a nice day.
posted by zachlipton at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quite the science guy, isn't he.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Electric Time Company

What an awesome company name. "We make time for you!"
posted by backseatpilot at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dropped out of college at the age of 20 and moved out to Ithaca to live a flaneur's life. One of my closest friends, a Cornell undergrad, had his roommate suddenly split and I took her place and got a job down at Jimmy John's in the commons, making sandwiches during the graveyard shift. Due to a number of circumstances mainly revolving around SAD and that horrible Ithaca winter, I had a really rough time.

Then, one day in April, a girl (who I would end up dating for some time, years later) told me that Bill Nye -- yeah, that Bill Nye -- would be the guest lecturer in her astronomy class. It was a lecture hall, so I could sneak in pretty easily. Having no sense of direction, I had stayed away from wandering around the campus on my own, but I pulled up a map and eventually made my way there. It was great, and coincidentally the day that I realized the sun had finally come back out.

So, basically, I associate seeing Bill Nye with getting out of a several-month-long depression now.
posted by griphus at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


Here is the Electric Time Company's website, which I meant to include. They have some photos of some of their other projects as well as a small amount of information about their history, for anyone who was interested and didn't want to Google.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2011


The idea for the clock's solar noon feature was inspired by Nye's father, who became fascinated with sundials while a prisoner of war during World War II. During the War, Nye's mother was a Navy cryptographer working to decipher the notorious Nazi Enigma Code.

I learn the most interesting facts following the links here on MeFi.
posted by TedW at 12:26 PM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Electric Time Company makes some beautiful clocks. I really like the mitteleuropäische feel of this one.

And I can't tell from the articles, but it's not clear if the solar-shaped feature lights up from the alignment of the sun, or from some electro-mechanical doo-hickey signaling it. I suspect it's the latter, but I would love it if it were the former.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:32 PM on August 29, 2011


In case you somehow missed it, Previously...
posted by schmod at 12:33 PM on August 29, 2011


I did miss it, and that is a daunting amount of Bill Nye links.

Is there any more information about how the solar noon clock works? I am interested in how they can get the clock to light up only for a short period of time, but none of the links seem to provide an explanation. One link says that it was done with a very reflective tube, but I don't see anything more informative.
posted by chemoboy at 12:44 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


How have I only discovered today that Bill Nye has a blog?!
posted by dustpatterns at 1:13 PM on August 29, 2011


"And Rhodes Hall is at Cornell University, which I failed to point out."

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall. And the H.T., supposedly, stands for Hot Truck.
posted by Eideteker at 1:18 PM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Go Big Red!
posted by Eideteker at 1:18 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I note that, in the photos of the installation, it's raining. Is that irony?
posted by Bummus at 1:36 PM on August 29, 2011


No, irony is more like when you cite the lack or irony in an alternative rock hit from the mid-90s.
posted by griphus at 1:41 PM on August 29, 2011


Is there any more information about how the solar noon clock works? I am interested in how they can get the clock to light up only for a short period of time, but none of the links seem to provide an explanation. One link says that it was done with a very reflective tube, but I don't see anything more informative.

The Long Now project has tackled the problem a bit more seriously with their Solar Synchronizer.
posted by odinsdream at 2:04 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there any more information about how the solar noon clock works? I am interested in how they can get the clock to light up only for a short period of time, but none of the links seem to provide an explanation.

From this link: Although the Electric Time Company of Medfield, Mass., constructed the new clock in Rhodes, Louge said that Nye designed and Cornell engineering students built the “microcontroller” that calculates the exact time of the solar noon.

Yeah, after that sundial essay, I was kind of hoping it was some arrangement of prisms and mirrors with a direct connection to the celestial movements of the sun. But it's just a little computer hooked up to a shutter. You could program it to open the shutter and light up at exactly 15 minutes after solar noon if you wanted to. Or just plain old noon. Or any arbitrary time during sunlight hours.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:23 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try this at home, kids.
posted by jan murray at 3:02 PM on August 29, 2011


My department office is in Rhodes Hall, and I completely missed the Bill Nye aspect of this. Also the glowing at solar noon aspect. I feel a little oblivious.
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:12 PM on August 29, 2011


This can join the relatively useless sundial in the Engineering Quad, which looks like this on a nice day.

I... did not know that was a sundial.
posted by bq at 3:23 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I... did not know that was a sundial.

My point precisely.

I note that, in the photos of the installation, it's raining. Is that irony?

Nope. It's Ithaca.
posted by zachlipton at 3:31 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Barely) related: the dipleidoscope, a device used to determine exactly when local solar noon occurs.
posted by richyoung at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure why, but I initially read this as "Bill Nighy dedicated a solar noon clock he designed". I can't decide if I like this better or not.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 5:23 PM on August 29, 2011


Try this outside your home, kids.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:52 PM on August 29, 2011


Did somebody say Hot Truck? Gimme a Moby with grease and run it through the garden!

(Ithaca: the only place where it was possible to walk up hill both ways when going to and coming home from class)
posted by KingEdRa at 11:13 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


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