One of my students wanted to study time. So today we went to talk with a gentleman who repairs clocks. We opened the door to his shop and walked in to the quietness of soft ticking. It smelled of old wood, varnish, dust and oil. He showed us how he repairs clocks, the tiny tools, the lathe. He took out the works of a clock and we learned about energy transfer, gear chains, the escape wheel.
We learned that the period of a pendulum one meter long is one second. Coincidence? I think not! The oldest clock in the shop, 1780, had an ‘equation hand’ so that you can set it by referring to a sundial. My student made the connection that what we need for keeping time is a way to store energy, releasing it at regular intervals and that could be a wound spring, a quartz crystal or an excited bit of Cesium 133.
Who would have thought - history, physics, tools and time? I’m a happy teacher!
We were deep in conversation about the eighteenth century race to make a clock for ships so they could calculate longitude. The grandfather clock behind me struck 11 am, then the coo-coo. We stopped talking and just listened to all the ancient time keepers strike the hour.