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Clock of the Long Now

A 10,000 year clock is currently being prepared for a mountain in Texas. Ten thousand years is about the age of civilization, so the clock would measure out a future of civilization equal to its past. That assumes we are in the middle of whatever journey we are on - an implicit statement of optimism.

With long-term thinking sorely lacking in too many places today, the 10,000 Year Clock is an attempt to put long term thinking back on our agenda. The Clock is now being machined and assembled in California and Seattle and the heart of a mountain in Texas is being readied for its installation. It's designed to run with minimal maintenance and will be powered by energy harvested from sunlight.

It’s no ordinary timepiece: the unique melodies it will occasionally chime have been composed by deep-time enthusiast Brian Eno, and funding for the project (and the mountain in Texas) comes courtesy of Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire founder of Amazon.

The clock is designed to startle us out of the here and now and consider the future of humanity. And it poses the existential question: if a clock can keep going for 10 millennia, shouldn’t we make sure our civilisation does as well? If the Clock keeps going after we are personally long dead, why not attempt other projects that require future generations to finish? The larger question is, as virologist Jonas Salk once asked, “Are we being good ancestors?”


For the Longest Time

Vancouver choir sings a lockdown version of Billy Joel's classic hit.


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