If the Antikythera device was the greatest machine from the ancients, then for certain the greatest machine for the next several millenia should be the 10,000 year clock. Here in the year 02014, you can learn why legendary computer scientist and inventor Danny Hillis put aside the day-to-day and takes the long view on society, technology, and humanity. Here’s the Clock of the Long Now. And here’s how it is being engineered.
The year is 12011. Two hikers cut through a stretch of cactus-filled desert outside what was once the small town of Van Horn, near the Mexican border, in West Texas. After walking for the better part of a day under a relentless sun, they struggle up a craggy limestone ridge. Finally they come to an opening in the rock, the mouth of what appears to be a long, deep tunnel.
As they head into the shadows, not quite knowing where the tunnel will lead, the sudden darkness and the drop in temperature startle their senses. After a few minutes the hikers reach a cool chamber dimly lit from above. A tall column of strange shiny metal gears and rods rises hundreds of meters above them. Steps cut into the walls spiral upward, and the hikers ascend until they reach a platform. A black globe suspended above depicts the night sky, encircled by metal disks that indicate the year and the century.