Recommended website: As an icon for long-term thinking, a 10,000 Year Clock is build inside a mountain in West Texas.
The project was conceived by Danny Hillis in 1986: “I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every one hundred years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years. If I hurry I should finish the clock in time to see the cuckoo come out for the first time.”
The problem: No clock can have a guaranteed lifetime of 10,000 years, but some clocks are designed with guaranteed limits. For example, a clock that shows a four-digit year date will not display the correct year after the year 9999.
Thus, the basic design principles and requirements for the clock are:
- Longevity: The clock should be accurate even after 10,000 years, and must not contain valuable parts (such as jewels, expensive metals, or special alloys) that might be looted.
- Maintainability: Future generations should be able to keep the clock working, if necessary, with nothing more advanced than Bronze Age tools and materials.
- Transparency: The clock should be understandable without stopping or disassembling it; no functionality should be opaque.
- Evolvability: It should be possible to improve the clock over time.
- Scalability: To ensure that the final large clock will work properly, smaller prototypes must be built and tested.
The manufacture and site construction of the first full-scale prototype clock is being funded by Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions, with $42 million, and is on land which Bezos owns in Texas.