Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has invested $42 million for the construction of “10,000 Year Clock”. A 500-foot-tall clock designed to encourage long-range thinking is being constructed inside a mountain range in West Texas on property owned by Bezos.
On Tuesday (Feb. 20), Bezos tweeted the first video footage of an unusual project he’s funding. True to its name, the clock is designed to accurately keep time for 10,000 years. It’s powered by a combination of solar energy and occasional windings by any intrepid visitors who stray into the limestone cliffs of Texas’ Sierra Diablo mountain range sometime over the next 10 millennia.
The actual idea for the clock comes from Danny Hillis, who originally proposed a 10,000-year clock in 1995 in Wired as a way to think about the long-term future of humanity and the planet. That idea grew into the Clock of the Long Now, a project by the Long Now Foundation, which Hillis went on to co-found to build an actual, working version of the proposed clock. The group built a couple of prototypes, but Bezos’ clock – which Hillis is designing – will be the first to function on a full scale. The team has spent the last few years machining parts for the clock and drilling through the mountain to store the components. It will have gears, chimes and a pendulum, made of stainless steel, titanium and high-tech ceramics, but Hillis says it will be very different from a standard clock.
“One of the big differences is that it runs very, very slowly. It ticks very slowly. Another big difference is that it actually doesn’t show you the time when you go up to it. It doesn’t show you the time until you wind it. The clock face shows the positions of the planets and the moon and the stars so it’s hopefully kind of a universal clock face that would make sense for somebody who doesn’t use exactly the same timekeeping systems that we do.”
There is no scheduled completion date for the project but when it is finished, visitors will be able to hike to the site see it. “The nearest airport is several hours away by car” and a rugged foot trail that rises almost 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Would you spend $42 million for a clock that ticks once a year?