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August 13, 2009

3.16 Billion Cycles

photo of Che-Wei Wang's 3.16 billion cycles clock

My obsession with clockwork movements shows no sign of abating. The latest to catch my eye is artist Che-Wei Wang's 3.16 Billion Cycles. It's a clock movement driven by a motor that rotates once a second. The following pulley rotates once every 5 seconds (1:5 ratio). The next rotates once every 60 seconds or 1 minute. Then 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, and 1 decade. The decade wheel carries the load of the large arc. The large arc rotates once every century. The final ratio between the 60 rpm motor and the large arc is approximately 1:31.6 billion.

Of course, there's every possibility that Che-Wei is a few months away from getting a practical lesson in power train torque and that the motor may not be able to send enough power to move the outer arc. (And of course simple problems like that are NOTHING compared to what the Clock of the Long Now team is up against) but it's still a fascinating piece, one that gets better over time.

Comments? Email me at comments-at-spurgeonworld.com

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at August 13, 2009 07:14 AM


I'll see your 3.16 Billion Cycles and raise you Arthur Ganson's gear train embedded in solid concrete: The motor spins at 200 rpm and the final gear would spin once every 2.191 Trillion years, if it weren't, you know, embedded in solid concrete.

If they sold tiny versions of this at the MIT Museum gift shop, I'd have sent you one for your birthday.

Posted by: Dr. Foo at August 20, 2009 11:52 PM