This week Jeff Bezos announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Amazon. We thought this would be a good opportunity to remind you that he is also building a 10,000 year clock inside a mountain.
Jeff Bezos’ 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now
This isn’t news, but it is a fact that some people tend to either not know or have completely forgotten.
Called the Clock of the Long now and has been under construction within a mountain on property Jeff Bezos owns in Texas since 2018. Bezos has reportedly contributed at least $US42 million to the project.
The 500ft structure has been designed to keep time for 10,000 years and will only tick one per year and chime once per millennium.
If hollowing out a mountain to build a multi-millennia time piece sounds like supervillain areas, we can’t blame you for that. But the purpose of the clock is supposed to encourage people to think about the long-term future of the human race.
“Why would anyone build a Clock inside a mountain with the hope that it will ring for 10,000 years?” the Long Now website asks.
“Part of the answer: just so people will ask this question, and having asked it, prompt themselves to conjure with notions of generations and millennia. If you have a Clock ticking for 10,000 years what kinds of generational-scale questions and projects will it suggest?”
“If a Clock can keep going for ten millennia, shouldn’t we make sure our civilization does as well? If the Clock keeps going after we are personally long dead, why not attempt other projects that require future generations to finish?”
Installation has begun—500 ft tall, all mechanical, powered by day/night thermal cycles, synchronized at solar noon, a symbol for long-term thinking—the #10000YearClock is coming together thx to the genius of Danny Hillis, Zander Rose & the whole Clock team! Enjoy the video. pic.twitter.com/FYIyaUIbdJ
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 20, 2018
According to the plans, the clock will contain five ‘room-sized anniversary chambers’ for the 1 year, 10 year, 100 year, 1,000 year, and 10,000 year anniversaries of the clock’s completion.
The one year chamber will reportedly include a model of the solar system and each year it will run the animation. There are also apparently plans to create an animation for the 10-year cycle but we don’t have details on that yet.
However, we do know that the team behind the project will not create the animations for the remaining anniversary chambers.
“[We] will instead leave those to future generations. We are providing a mechanical interface into those chambers that provides those future builders with power and the correct Clock triggering events,” Bezos wrote at the time.
At the present time there is no completion date scheduled for the 10,000 year clock. But it will apparently be open to the public once its finished.
It wasn’t Jeff’s idea
The clock itself is designed by computer scientist and entrepreneur, Danny Hillis, who first conceived of the idea back in 1986. Since then he has done some pretty cool stuff, like building super computers, working on Disney rides and building autonomous dinosaur robots.
He also started the Long Now Foundation back in 1996 to help make his 10,000 years clock a reality.
While some far smaller working prototypes have been made, this is the first full-sized version of the clock to be built. One of these was activated on December 31, 1999 and now resides in the Science Museum in London.
However, a site for a second full-scale Clock of the Long Now has already been purchased in Nevada.
What’s perhaps most impressive about the project, besides the sheer scale, is its optimism. Hillis clearly wanted to build something that will not only transcend generations but make those of us in the present think beyond ourselves and our time.
This philosophy is woven throughout the entirety of the Long Now website. Poetry is woven into facts about the clock, and it’s really quite beautiful.
Here’s an excerpt:
There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years.
Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before.
The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the
Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it.
It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.