Jeff Bezos Invested $42 Million in a Giant Millennium Clock Buried in the Desert

Friday, 23 February 2018 - 12:15PM
Technology
Weird Science
Friday, 23 February 2018 - 12:15PM
Jeff Bezos Invested $42 Million in a Giant Millennium Clock Buried in the Desert
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Screenshot/Vimeo

Yes, Elon Musk decided to build a massive tunnel-drilling company on a whim and launched a $250,000 luxury car into space, but those projects are peanuts compared to Jeff Bezo's $42 million investment in the Long Now Foundations' 10,000 Year Clock – a titanic mechanical clock being built into a mountain owned by Bezos himself in the Sierra Diablo range located between Texas and Mexico. It may be the only clock in existence with a "century" hand, and the story behind it is almost as fascinating as its construction.

The Long Now Foundation was founded in 1996 by Danny Hillis, who wanted to change the way the modern world thinks about time. According to Stewart Brand, a member of the Foundation:

"Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking...Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed-some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where 'long-term' is measured at least in centuries."

Hillis initially proposed the construction of the 10,000 Year Clock as a way to inspire this kind of long-term thinking. Since then, his foundation has added another project, the 10,000-Year Library, which is made up of the Rosetta Disk, the Long Viewer, and the Long Server. Each of these is meant to preserve information for the future, whether it's a book or a language, and create a multi-millennium canon that can be accessed by future generations.


Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo

Bezos has been working with the Foundation on the clock project for several years, including taking part in its design. The clock itself is planned to include twenty 1,000-pound gears called Geneva wheels, which will turn once a day. When they do, their interlocking sequences will cause ten bells to ring. Over the next 10,000 years, the sequence of chimes will never repeat – every day will be different. The clock will be powered by solar panels, but visitors will also be able to wind the clock with a three-pronged handle.

Speaking about the Clock, Bezos says "As I see it, humans are now technologically advanced enough that we can create not only extraordinary wonders but also civilization-scale problems. We're likely to need more long-term thinking."

You can learn more about the Clock here.

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