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2014年1月26日星期日

What time is it?


图片取自 You. Me. Us

  This was true the moment Dor marked his first sun shadow.

  As a child sitting in the sand, he had predicted that tomorrow would contain a moment like today, and the next day a moment like tomorrow. Every generation after Dor was determined to sharpen his concept, counting ever more precisely the measure of their lives.

  Sundials were placed in doorways. Giant water clocks were constructed in city squares. The move to mechanical designs —— weight driven, verge and foliot models —— led to tower clocks and grandfather clocks and eventually clocks that fit on a shelf.

  Then a French mathematician tied a string to a timepiece, put it around his wrist, and man began to wear time on his body.

  Accuracy improved at a startling rate. Although it took until the sixteenth century for the minute hand to be invented, by the seventeenth century, the pendulum clock was accurate to within a minute a day. Less than one hundred years later, it was within a second.

  Time has become an industry. Man divided the world into zones so that transportation could be accurately scheduled. Trains pulled away at precise moments; ships pushed their engines to ensure on-time arrivals.

  People awoke to clanging alarms. Business adhered to "hours of operation". Every factory had a whistle. Every classroom had a clock.

  What time is it? became one of the world's most common questions, found on page one of every foreign-language instruction book. What time is it? ¿qué hora es? Skol'ko syejchas vryemyeni?

The Time Keeper, p111-112
Mitch Albom
ISBN 978-0-7515-4118-2

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