Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clock History

The James Burke television series of the '70s, Connections still remains immensely popular. He had a real knack for telling the history of change.

In this episode Burke is talking about the history of the clock, and how it relates to the development of the computer as well as mechanized production and the development of the U.S. as an industrial power.

He starts here by explaining early Arabic theories in astronomy and astrology, as well as European contemporaries' need for hourly prayer in the Dark Ages. Burke takes us through history, pointing out the need for an accurate clock and the rise of Christiann Huygens's important invention: the pendulum clock.

By the end of the first segment here, Burke introduces the verge and foliott - the exact escapement found in our "Rock Clock" which was in use in the Black Forest in Germany in 1640. In the second segment listed here he talkes about a fusee mechanism and goes on to show other mechanical marvels like our cuckoo clocks - or our "Rottenburg", for example.

The entire episode is available on YouTube in segments. I would highly reccommend checking the entire series out of your local library or favorite video store.