Telling time—watches and clocks—initial sketches

A great website for inspiration (they have some really funky, fun watches): http://www.seahope.com/products_en/

A great page for really nerdy clocks (I *love* these, by the way): http://talklikeaphysicist.com/2008/ultimate-clock-for-a-physicist-you-gotta-have-this-physics-math-and-pi-clocks/

Also, a couple of nice screensaver digital clocks: http://simplecomplexity.net/time-visualizations/

And a fun page with 100 funky timepieces (actually it’s 118, but apparently it’s better to keep things simple than to keep them accurate): http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/100-funky-timepieces

This is a great web time visualization: the World Clock. It allows you to see the time all over the world, but more interesting than that, it allows you to view all sorts of world statistics as they change. You can watch babies being born! http://www.poodwaddle.com/clocks/worldclock/

A set of sketches for a binary barcode watch.

Early in my investigation, I thought, “Oh, a binary watch would be super-cool. I could make it even nerdier by using little LEDs to represent the ones and zeros. Then I thought, “Well, I should check whether anyone has done it before,” and of course, LOTS of people have done it before. Then I was looking at the seahope.com site, and they have a barcode watch on there, but it’s kind of sad as far as barcodes go. It’s really more of a bar graph watch. The idea of a true barcode watch, however, is quite interesting to me, which is why I came to make the sketches above.

After watching the planetary example on the blog, I started thinking, what are some other ways that one can tell time across long stretches of time. My first thought was some wacky idea of a giant set of teeth chomping on father time (the idea of time being eaten away) but I of course thought, “But when does it end? Does it ever end?” and of course, I then thought of the whole silly business of the Mayan calandar ending on December 21, 2012 (I had to look the date up—before now, I never bothered learning enough about it to know the date/that it ends on winter solstice). The idea that I came up with is to have an image of a Mayan calandar that progressively has its pixels switched with those of a doomsday image, up until the final day of the calendar. Over the roughly 58.7 million seconds between now and December 21, 2012, the image would slowly resolve from the calendar to the doomsday image (roughly 1 pixel every 74 seconds for a 1024×768 pixel image).

A couple of example images are below:

My last sketch I’ll show is of an idea for two waveforms, that are at very slightly different frequencies, such that their waves align every minute, or maybe even stretch it out to every hour. At that moment, they build on each other to create the double-amplitude green wave. At the halfway point (every 30 seconds or every 30 minutes, depending on whether I choose minutes or hours) they are precisely out of phase, and so cancel each other out (denoted by the flat green line).

The rough sketch:

I was also thinking of an atomic model…. but I failed to make it will work out in a way that a) looks good and b) doesn’t make the physicist in me cringe. Googling something like “funky watches,” I came across a couple of atomic watches, which gave me the idea of making an atom-themed clock. When I googled “atom watch” and “atom clock” I found a couple of watches that have atomic structure as a theme, but they were all along the lines of middle school science models with the electrons orbiting like planets, not something that a physicist would likely wear, due to the inaccurate, over-simplified representation of an atom’s structure… Thus, I was intrigued by the idea of creating an atom-themed watch, probably another binary watch. I was thinking a carbon atom, since a) it is the element that we most associate with life and our representation of time is really a human-applied thing and somewhat arbitrary in its measurement, and b) carbon has 6 electrons and 6 protons, which I can use to keep track of the minutes and seconds (binary requires six digits to count up to 59). OOOORRR, possibly it morphs from one element/ion to another, based on the time. That could be interesting, too… though very difficult to visualize smoothly. So far, it has just been one big mess. Kind of like quantum physics can be… 😛 My initial sketches are quite ugly… I’ll probably just go with one of my other ideas…

Oh, and one last idea that I haven’t sketched: a heartbeat watch that tells time based on a person’s heartbeat. The idea: it would average the heartbeat over the past week and synch that to actual time, but whenever the heartbeat speeds up or slows down, time slows or speeds up to match it. The idea being that our sense of time accelerates when we are active or under stress/duress, but that our sense of time slows when we are inactive. Or perhaps it resets itself every night, but operates based on heartbeat during the daytime? It could be fun. Kind of useless as a true watch, but very useful as a reflection on the pace of one’s daily life.

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