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By Dyuthi Pamulaparthi, Class 6, Vibgyor High, Marathahalli , Bangalore

The Clock of the Long Now, also called the 10,000-year clock, is a mechanical clock under construction, that is designed to keep time for 10,000 years. It is buried in a mountain in Texas. The project to build it is part of the Long Now Foundation. The project was conceived by Danny Hillis in 1986. The first prototype of the clock began working on December 31, 1999, just in time to display the transition to the year 2000. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the date indicator changed from 01999 to 02000, and the chime struck twice. The two-meter prototype is on display at the Science Museum in London. As of December 2007, two more recent prototypes are on display at The Long Now Museum & Store at Fort Mason Centre in San Francisco.

The manufacture and site construction of the first full-scale prototype clock is being funded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions, with $42 million, and is on land which Bezos owns in Texas. The basic design principles and requirements for the clock are:[3]

1. Longevity: The clock should be accurate even after 10,000 years, and must not contain valuable parts (such as jewels, expensive metals, or special alloys) that might be looted.
2. Maintainability: Future generations should be able to keep the clock working, if necessary, with nothing more advanced than Bronze Age tools and materials.
3. Transparency: The clock should be understandable without stopping or disassembling it; no functionality should be opaque.
4. Evolvability: It should be possible to improve the clock over time.
5. Scalability: To ensure that the final large clock will work properly, smaller prototypes must be built and tested.

No clock can have a guaranteed lifetime of 10,000 years, but some clocks are designed with guaranteed limits. (For example, a clock that shows a four-digit year date will not display the correct year after the year 9999.) With continued care and maintenance, the Clock of the Long Now could reasonably be expected to display the correct time for 10,000 years (But being a five-digit year date, carries with it a theoretical accuracy of one-hundred-thousand-years).

Whether a clock would actually receive continued care and maintenance for such a long time is debatable. Hillis chose the 10,000-year goal to be just within the limits of plausibility. There are technological artefacts, such as fragments of pots and baskets, from 10,000 years in the past, so there is some precedent for human artefacts surviving this long, although very few human artefacts have been continuously tended for more than a few centuries.


Dyuthi Pamulaparthi       Vibgyor High, Marathahalli      
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