While I definitely learned a lot from these resources, like the fact ancient peoples didn’t just use sundials and devices like water clocks were a thing, I think the most surprising piece of info, which was stated in the history of time measurement video, was that Stonehenge was used to plan the planting and harvesting of crops. This was interesting to me because for some reason I thought that Stonehenge’s purpose was a mystery, and I never would have guessed that it was used as a time measurement device.
I thought the Wikipedia article and book excerpt was interesting because it made me think about how precisely regulated all my activities are. It also was difficult to wrap my head around how our notion of time is essentially an abstract concept and how its definition fluctuates even across different academic fields.
I found it interesting that the idea of the seven day week came from the lunar month. I hadn’t realized that all other large divisions of time (days, months, seasons, years) all directly track to a natural event, but weeks have drifted from their original meaning.
Comparing the historical timekeeping devices with our modern ones, the modern standard clock is actually the most abstract. Historical “clocks” emphasize more on the idea of passing, while the modern clocks make it seem that time is a loop.
The video about timekeeping devices made me imagine and think through many interesting problems we need to solve in the future regard to timekeeping on the scale of light-years. With relativity, timekeeping is non-trivial and indeed demands research. Many applications, such as interplanetary Amazon delivery and interplanetary Twitter can hugely be benefited from the next generation time-keeping device.
My favourite one of these readings/viewing was the video of the entire history of timekeeping in 6 minutes. It was short and sweet, and I think the part that stuck with me the most was the fact that people were trying so hard to figure out a way to track longitude and it took many many years to come up with what today we would think of something so simple, a wind up clock.
By watching and reading more about time, I have become ambivalent towards the concept of time. On the one hand, I am amazed at how we, as humans, were able to achieve such an accurate measure of time, especially since I learned that time doesn’t have a direct natural source (Drucker, 2). Yet, on the other hand, seeing all the past timekeeping devices makes me wonder how my lifestyle would have differed if time wasn’t as accurate as it is now. Sometimes, my actions are pressurized/motivated by time as I see the time change every second and know that I have to do certain things by a certain time. I feel like it has motivated me to re-think the way I perceive and approach time.
After watching An entire history of time measurement in six minutes, I am most amazed by the concept of relativity and specifically how space and time are so related. I had to stop myself from going down an internet rabbit hole. More related to the timekeeping topic, I was surprised that latitude and longitude were so closely related to time (I think the concept of space being measured by time and just the space/time relationship in general is just so weird to me)
Something that stuck with me from the readings was the water clock because I’ve never considered using water to describe time since it is a fluid medium rather than solid structures. The water clock uses water in a similar way that an hourglass uses sand; however, a viewer looks into a container of water and matches time markers with the water level. I think that looking through water to see time is interesting because it seems like a more mystical way to tell time that is not absolute.
“Like maps, celestial coordinate systems become a reified intellectual construct, a graphical scheme through which human beings create a relation to the phenomenal world.” (Drucker 72-73)
It’s common knowledge that most calendars are abstractions of planetary movement, constructs that ultimately root human routine in the phenomenological. Yet, the abstraction (more than what it represents) is almost too embedded in our everyday lives: I hardly find myself gazing at the information structure of GCal and feeling deeply connected to the position of the stars and moon, the impermanence of my existence, or the cycles of the natural world (maybe just me).
“Errors in early pendulum clocks were eclipsed by those caused by temperature variation” (From Wikipedia “History of Timekeeping Devices”)
We don’t tend to think of clocks as susceptible to messy or imprecise influences like temperature. Time is usually thought of as a dimension on its own, but what if the x-axis was warping and breaking based on some other axis?