Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

10,000 Year Clock

PostedJanuary 21, 2018

Download File (mp3)

LEDE: As we look ahead to the New Year, a team of engineers is planning construction of mechanical clock as a monument they hope will still be working, and attracting visitors, thousands of years into the future. 

Randy Atkins: The clock will be about as tall as the Washington Monument and the engineers’ challenge is for it to run – maintenance-free – past the year 10-thousand.  Jascha Little, a mechanical engineer at the Long Now Foundation, says he hopes it inspires people to act on issues beyond the short-term.

Jascha Little: The main goal is to make people think about what they are doing now and how it will affect…our descendants in the far future, like what kind of ancestors are we being.

Randy Atkins: Little says that the clock will be located in West Texas, underground to protect it from weather. It will be made from a complex array of materials — like titanium, stainless steel, ceramics – chosen for aesthetics and mechanics.

Jascha Little: Materials that are corrosion-resistant…they don’t change shape and flake off. Materials that can tolerate rubbing on each other or sliding on each other without any lubrication for the number of cycles we require.

Randy Atkins:  Little says the clock will be mainly powered by mechanical energy harvested from visitors to the monument. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

TAG: There is no completion date set, but the clock will be open to the public as soon as it is finished.