“Conventional clocks with hands are boring,” says inventor John Taylor. Much more interesting to build a four-foot-wide mechanical timepiece that has no hands or numbers, uses blue lights flashing through slits to tell the time, and is accurate only once in five minutes. Watch it work in a short video narrated by Taylor.
He based the clock on a design by longitude pioneer John Harrison, who was calibrating the one he built himself when he died in 1776. The ominous grasshopper sculpture atop the face is a tribute to another Harrison invention, the “grasshopper escapement” that releases a clock’s gears with each swing of the pendulum. The “Chronophage” (time-eater) was unveiled at Cambridge by Stephen Hawking, in a ceremony that ran 14 minutes and 55 seconds late. Taylor says:
“I … wanted to depict that time is a destroyer – once a minute is gone you can’t get it back …. That’s why my grasshopper is not a Disney character. He is a ferocious beast that over the seconds has his tongue lolling out, his jaws opening, then on the 59th second he gulps down time.”
[Hawking unveils the chronophage by rubberpaw]