Jeff Bezos is funding a gigantic clock built under a mountain. No, you did not read that incorrectly. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, and one of the richest men in the world, has partnered with Alexander Rose, an industrial designer, and Danny Hills, an inventor, to help build a futuristic time-keeping machine in a big old mountain outside the town of Van Horn, Texas. The clock is expected to run for 10,000 years.
"Over the lifetime of this clock, the United States won’t exist," Bezos told Dylan Tweney of Wired this week. "Whole civilizations will rise and fall. New systems of government will be invented. You can’t imagine the world — no one can — that we’re trying to get this clock to pass through." Ground has been broken for the device, which is being managed by the Long Now Foundation.
When the clock is installed and completed, 500 feet under the earth, it will stand an estimated 200 feet tall, and include gears measuring between five and eight feet long. A very big clock, in other words, designed to run for a very long time. (You can read more about the machinery behind the clock on the Website of the Long Now Foundation. There are also some pretty cool animations.)
"[It] is humans that keep the Clock’s bells wound up, and humans who ask it the time. The Clock needs us," Kevin Kelly writes in an essay on the clock, posted to the Long Now Foundation site. "It will be an out of the way, long journey to get inside the Clock ringing inside a mountain. But as long as the Clock ticks, it keeps asking us, in whispers of buried bells, 'Are we being good ancestors?' "
Well! That is a heady question. But of course, this is a very heady project, driven by some very heady people, with a lot of money and the will to build a giant clock under a mountain. We'll keep you posted on clock updates. In the meantime, drop us a line in the comments section –– what do you think about the construction of the 10,000-year clock?