Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Rolling, eternity chronograph
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
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UnaBubba has tipped me off to an exceptional, mobile clock that has existed in a hidden monastery since the late 1790’s. The timepiece, in the form of an elongated bicycle, was constructed and has been tended by mysterious monks with nothing else to do with their time.

The Swiss immigrant order of pedaling friars designed the machine at a time when only primitive two-wheelers existed, and amazingly, the clock is renowned for its accuracy. I was recently allowed the unique opportunity to examine this vehicle that measures time not only in seconds, minutes and hours, but also in days, weeks, months, years, decades and centuries.

The splendid bicyclockle stood against the wall of a large circular room. The length of its polished oak frame allowed a series of bicycle chains and gears to slow down the pedal speed of one revolution per second to one revolution per millennium at the back wheel. Each of the nine gears was labeled with a time unit and was marked e.g. 0, 5, 10…55 or JAN, FEB…DEC.

Originally the celibate cyclists powered the device continuously as an exercise bicycle, keeping time to a metronome. During a delicate renovation in 1921, a generator and battery were installed, allowing intermittent but more energetic use. In addition to gear ratios from 1:10 to 1:60, the pedaling friars conceived special gearing to convert weeks to months.

Though I carefully watched the bicyclockle, its pedals rhythmically turning, and observed no movement of its wheels, the biking brothers assured me that the machine has rolled eight inches in the last 200 years.

FarmerJohn, Jan 14 2003

Bicyclockle, drawn from memory http://www.geocitie...ie/bicyclockle.html
[FarmerJohn, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       How does it do leap_______s?
Shz, Jan 14 2003

       Pedal twice as hard for one day.   

       Since the gyroscopic effect of the turning wheels can be considered as negligible, I'd like to know how it stays upright.   

       Also how come the brothers didn't see fit to share their development of multi spoke wheels, pneumatic tyres and attendant rubber vulcanisation technology with the rest of the world? Pretty selfish leaving the rest of us wallowing for another hundred-odd years.
egbert, Jan 14 2003

       //I'd like to know how it stays upright.//   

       Good sense of balance?
st3f, Jan 14 2003

       Shz: That’s incorporated in the weeks to month gearing: after a pre-calculated number of weeks, some Februarys take a little longer to become March.   

       egbert: It leans slightly against the curved wall (negligible friction). //share their development//Mysterious religious convictions?
FarmerJohn, Jan 14 2003

       Let’s see… the average deceleration of the Earth is roughly 1.4 milliseconds per day per century, and the metronome works like an atomic clock…   

       …Just being a pain [FJ] >:-)   

       + by the way.
Shz, Jan 14 2003

       /…Just being a pain [FJ] >:-)   

       + by the way.//   

       Yeah, me too.
egbert, Jan 14 2003

       Actually, I'd like to see a purely-mechanical clock that automatically adjusted for daylight saving time (or better yet, include that ability in the Rolex perpetual day-date). Mechanically it would not be unduly difficult: just have a cam which revolves once every four years which indicates whether any particular day would "like" to be in daylight saving time. The follower for this cam would be weakly tied, via spring linkage, to a pivoting gear assembly which connects the minute and hour hand. That gear assembly would be locked in place except when the minute hand was at "12", the hour hand at "2", and the day was on "Sunday".
supercat, Jan 14 2003


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