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[Tidbits] Sundial


Before I begin… last week’s answer.
Name: John Jacob Astor
Village in Queens, NY: Astoria


Time is a rather interesting phenomenon… its measurement filled
with a myriad of totally useless facts. However… keep in mind that
the more useless a fact is… the more fascinating it becomes. This
was discovered by one Benjamin Mark on the seventh day of June, 2009
at approximately 8:58 PM, EST.

For those of you who have recently turned fifty seven and a few
weeks… you will have lived–by the measurement of current time
standards–more than a half a million hours.

Something you’ve all always wanted to know: The length of a second.
In olden days… maybe one hundred and fifty years ago or so… the
length of a second was 1/86,400 of an average day. Today we know
better… I am here to remove all anxiety over this conundrum. The
length of a second is now known to be the time taken for
9,192,631,770 vibrations of the timer inside a cesium atomic clock to
occur. Y’all feel better now?

As to the universally known fact that the earth is slowing down…
not to worry. In 1972 scientists decided to make some days one second
longer than normal. This was done to keep the Earth and the time
shown on our time measuring devices (watches and clocks and such)
from getting out of step. These seconds are called–quite aptly I may
add–Leap Seconds. I know you all knew this but I thought I’d throw
it in anyway.

Of course… if the Earth spun faster on its axis our days would be
shorter… there would be more of them in a year… and perhaps we
would not need leap seconds. Not sure if my logic is correct here…
but I rather think it sounds good. Did you know that the pendulum in
a grandfather clock swings from side to side more than 86,400 time a
day… which equals more that 31 million times a year.

All of which brings us to the incredibly amazing invention of the
pocket or portable sundial. This keen little gadget is to the
pedestal sundial what the pocket watch was to the pendulum clock.

You’re out strolling about on a nice sunny day. This item does not
work at night or on sunless days… a drawback folks of old had to
live with. A pretty young thing approaches you and asks you if you
have the time. You grit your teeth in order to repress the lascivious
remark that suddenly bursts forth in your mindless brain … and
with the smile born of a genteel upbringing you quell your primal
urges… dig into your vest pocket… and pull out your mini-
sundial. It’s a tad after one your tell the nymph and watch sadly as
she dashes off into the sunset… her pretty little rump waving at
you in disdain.

The saving grace to all this is that I have an image of this
portable sundial. It’s a winner folks. I am betting few of you have
seen this before. Wanna take a peek?

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Current Tidbits… and you will see represented on our pages an image
of a portable sundial… date of origin unspecified because the dolts
who wrote the book clearly didn’t think it was important. Whaddya
gonna do?

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark