Nov 252012
Corpus Clock Cambridge

The Corpus Clock

The Corpus Clock is housed on the corner of the Taylor Library opposite Corpus Chisti College in Cambridge, UK.

It’s just four years since Stephen Hawking unveiled the Corpus Clock to an audience of reporters whose initial descriptions of the time piece included, ‘monstrous’ and ‘fearsome’. It’s meant to be both those things…and so not surprisingly, when the initial reactions had waned it went on to be cited as, “The Times Best Invention” of 2008.

The 24 carat gold plated clock is the brainchild of Dr John Taylor OBE, an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, who studied Natural Sciences there between 1956 and 1959.

Taylor is an inventor whose thermostat switch is incorporated into 600 million electric kettles around the world and he has over 150 patents in his own name.

As a supporter of engineering and the arts, Taylor first gave £2.5m for a new undergraduate library to his old college and then offered to create and donate the £1m Corpus Clock to the library as well. Its creation involved 200 people, including engineers, sculptors, scientists, jewellers and calligraphers.

The clock represents the fear of time.

It has no hands or numbers, but displays the time by opening individual slits in the clock face, back-lit with blue LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).

The dominating visual feature of the clock is the sculpture of an insect similar in appearance to a locust, that Taylor refers to as “The Chronophage” which literally translates from Greek to mean “time eater”.

This philosophical notion is enhanced on the hour by the clunking sound of a chain falling into a coffin – hidden from view behind the sculpture!

Perhaps it is time we heeded the wisdom of these giants of British Engineering and Science. Through this clock, they are making the statement that society is not all about money – but very significantly about our use of time itself.

I think we will see much more of this concept – in time….

The clock has no hands and is ingenious in that the pendulum seems to stop from time to time, go slow and then catch up…

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