A Grandfather Clock Works By Gravity When The Pendulum The Evolution of the Sundial

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The Evolution of the Sundial

Before there were clocks, there was the Sun. Undeveloped cultures (both ancient and modern) often allowed their lives to be controlled by the appearance of the sun. Life was for another day. Subsistence activities included agriculture (although often referred to as “cultivation”), hunting, fishing, and sheltering. Most of these things needed sunlight. So, when the sun rose, the people woke up from their sleep; When the sun went down, the people went to bed again.

Sundials were used to mark the parts of the day, but many were made to work in specific areas. Some were so advanced that they had a removable pen that allowed the pen to be carried around and used in other areas. One way to measure time is to use candles. The graduates on the candlesticks slowly melted as the flame descended.

It is true that no method measured time with great accuracy. One could only collect approximately the passage of time. Mechanical clocks were first developed in the 1300s. These were “heavy” clocks, relying on gravity to pull weights attached to the timekeeping devices. However, accuracy was very difficult due to friction within the gears. These clocks were difficult to control for accuracy.

Spring-operated clocks were invented in the early 1500s. This allowed smaller clocks to be made, even portable clocks, because the hanging dimensions were no longer important; however, control was a problem because when the springs were stripped their power to move the clock could be lost. Although clocks could now sit on a table, or on a mantelpiece, they only had an hour hand.

It wasn’t until the introduction of the pendulum clock in the 1600s that clocks could accurately measure time to within one minute per 24 hours. In the 1700s, the error was reduced to one second per 24 hours, and by the end of the 1800 to one hundred per second in 24 hours.

Mechanical clocks began to take many forms: tall clocks (also known as grandfather clocks), manl clocks, table clocks, et al. Most of these are now under the category of Antique Clock, or Collectible Clock. In future articles we will look at another type of watch.

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