Posted by: Nar Williams | July 29, 2008

The 10,000 Year Clock: Our Stonehenge?

The Long Now Foundation has purchased a high desert mountain top property in eastern Nevada as the site for their planned public 10,000 Year Clock. Inventor and Long Now co-founder Danny Hillis designed the 8 foot prototype pictured above, and is now designing the mechanisms that would be used in a large scale version that will tick once a year — for 10,000 years. The foundation wishes to make the giant monument “an icon to long term thinking.”

I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every one hundred years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years.

In possibly the coolest cross-promotion ever, author Neal Stephenson features the clock in his new sci-fi novel Anathem, along with a quasi-religious society that tends to it over the millennia. Just think — in millenia to come, our evolved (or devolved) ancestors may marvel at the giant clock, just as we marvel at Stonehenge.

via dvice


  1. While long running “gadgets” are not new. In fact a few scientific experiments have already lasted decades and may last a century more. Though this one will take the cake

    But there’s one common theme among all of them that ensures long life. Simplicity.

    The Pitch Drop experiment is just a sealed container with a funnel and a blob of bitumen.

    The Foucalut Pendulum is just a weight on the end of a string.

    A device of this complexity will need to be robust by design. And they will need to make sure it will survive a whole list of potential obstacles and disasters beyond the curators’ control. Not the least of it being climate control or lack thereof at best and, at the worst, earthquakes.

  2. Unlike the failed Gottlieb Transit Corridor at the Griffith Observatory that was pretty darned cool in the planning and idea stages but just never quite translated IRL.

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