Video: Big Time Installation

February 21, 2018

Although the original idea to build an ultra-long running mechanical clock didn't originate with Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO is spending at least $42 million to build the 10,000 Year Clock inside a mountain on property he owns in west Texas.

Tuesday, Bezo tweeted that installation of the clock has begun.

The idea began in 1986 when a computer scientist, Danny Hillis, felt civilization was suffering from what he called a 'pathologically short attention span'.

Hillis formed an organization, The Long Now Foundation, to build a symbol of long-term thinking. Hillis wrote that, "Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse."

The group settled on a 500-foot tall mechanical clock which will be powered by harnessing the power of the temperature difference from the top of the mountain down to the bottom. Long metal rods transfer the thermal power to the interior of the clock. Visitors will also be able to wind the clock if they want. The clock's chime generator will create a different bell ringing sequence each day for 10,000 years.

Swaggart Brothers, Inc, part of the Wood Group,. is prime contractor on the construction project which is set in the mountains of the  Sierra Diablo range and will rise almost 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

Visitors will enter the clock's domain via a series of tunnels and chambers Swaggart Brothers is creating within the mountain. That's after they drive several hours from the nearest airport and then climb up a foot trail to the entrance.

Bezo writes in the 10,000YearClock blog, "Carved into the mountain are five room-sized anniversary chambers: 1 year, 10 year, 100 year, 1,000 year, and 10,000 year anniversaries. The one year anniversary chamber is a special orrery. In addition to the planets and the Earth's moon, it includes the interplanetary probes launched during the 20th century. The Clock will activate and run the orrery once a year on a pre-determined date at solar noon."

Here is a video of the drill breaking through the working chamber in 2011.