madeleine’s research

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Time in Other Fields: Physics

Time has always been part of the solar system and therefore part of astrology as well as astronomy. Throughout the years it has become a key component to the rest of science, especially physics.

Gallelalo used time devices to come up with his theories of free falling bodies, as well as the beginning of the concepts of relativity. Both newton and Einstein looked into time in realtion to rate brining about newtons laws of motion. Einstein used time and pervious discoveries in conceptualizing the idea of simultaneity. These explorations lead to his theory of relativity as well as his well known paper “on the Electrodynamics of moving bodies”.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The Evolution from Cyclical to Linear

Time is something that just keeps going. Today we think of time as a line, if a series of events is to be put in order it is organized onto a time line. The idea of a time line did not become the popular form of conceptualizing time until the Christian era. The Christians with their belief of the savoir coming once could no loner believe that time was circular because that was an event that would never happen again. Though even with this realization it was still hard for them to re conceptualize time.

The scientists and the scholars of the medieval period followed the concept of time be cyclic because of the influences of the astronomy and astrology. The Mercantile class of this period were the popular believers in linear progression of time by the influence of money. Many people at that time were still working on farms it was hard for them to see the time as continuously repeating.

In the 17th century AD the sundial was still the most accurate form of telling time, people set their mechanical clocks by the town’s sundial everyday.

In the mid 1600’s that Christian Huygens developed the first pendulum clock. It was with the invention of the first successful, dependable mechanical clock that the linear idea of time became dominant and the cyclic faded. This mechanized device that never stopped, it continuously worked people did not have to divided up what had occurred by the light or the moon and therefore could think of time as continuously building on the past.


The mechanical clock
“dissociated time from human events and helped to create the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences: the special world of science”

-Lewis Mumford




Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Time Devices


Gnomon, a Greek word meaning “indicator”

The gnomon was the first form of a time device. The first one was either built in Mesopotamia China, or Egypt. It is not known how it was originally made but it was probably from a stick being stuck in the ground, or inspired by the observation of a human’s shadow.

The Gnomon was not very accurate. If it was too short the change in the shadow through the day was too slight, but if it was too tall the shadow would be out of focus.

The main objective of the gnomon was to show the Zenith or “noon”. By finding the exact location of noon, north could be obtained during the day, when the north star is not visible.







 The Sundial 

Sundials were then created, also known as shadow clocks and a great deal more accurate than the original gnomon.

“In this case the shadow would always take the same direction for the same hour at an given place regardless of the day of the year, only [the shadow’s] would change” (p.13, LeLionnais)

They were first made in Egypt and later improved upon in Greece by Aristarchus or Eratosthenas of Cyrene at the end of the 3rd century BC to be used to calculate latitudes. They did this by placing the gnomon onto a hemispherical dial.

Through the years that the sundial was being perfected thirteen different models were created according to Vitruvious. These models varied based on orientation and curvature of the dial as well as the size, whether it be portable or monumental

For the Overcast Days


The Clepsydra was either invented by the Chaldeans, who showed it to the Phoenicians who brought it to the Egyptians, or the Egyptians invented it separately. Either way the name comes from greek meaning “Water Thief”. A Clepsydra is water clock that operates by having a vessel with lines marked on it where the water level would be at that time. These are relatively accurate except water pressure was not accurately accounted for. so they are consistent for an given location but if the altitude changes or the volume of water varies the speed at which the water fills the vessel can vary.

There are two forms of these clocks. One where the time was marked on the vessel it was leaving or the other where it was marked on the one it was entering. The latter, shown above works as a series where when the bottom container fills the original container, now empty can plug its hole and be used to collect the water of the second. The earliest writing about the clepsydra suggests it was used as early as 1580 BC in Egypt and the oldest one found is from 1400 BC built by Amenophis III.

There are records of China using the Clepsydra in 1000 BC and the Greeks used it in 325 BC.

The Greeks extended it use and value to astronomy allowing them to measure the diameter of the sun and moon by the time it took for one to pass across a line from edge to edge.

It was used by Herophilus of Alexandria to measure people’s pulses.

One was set up at the central clock of the agora in Athens.

It was used in court houses, lawyers would be granted a one clepsydra to finish their argument

Plato made his into an alarm clock with 12 doors and marble’s that would “strike” the hour

Galileo developed a mercury version to measure his experiments. Through this he was able to develop the law of free falling bodies. The distance a body covers in falling is proportional to the square of the time it takes to complete the fall.


Near the end of the 9th century Alfred the Great of England would keep track of time by burning a candle. These candles were wind controlled as to not effect the speed at which the candle would burn. The candles he used were about four hours, though this number is very rough.

Monks took the next step in developing wax clocks by making a candle that burned for an hour almost exactly surrounded by a wooden box to help control the wind around it.

This was developed into the “light-clock”, developed by al-jazari in 1206 AD. This advance consisted of a candle that lasted 13 hours. In the candle there were 13 marbles that were equally spaced so that after burning the candle for an hour a marble would released form the wax.












The native Americans found that they could measure the length of time by putting a hole at the bottom of a boat and allowing it to sink.

A sophisticated version of this was introduced by the early Saxons who would use bronze vessels that were standard, but varied in volume and size of the holes in the vessels could vary from under an inch to over 10 inches.

This form of time keeping is still used for irrigation in Algeria and Upper Egypt.


Better known as an hourglass is a later form of a time tracking device but was not an adaptation of the Clepsydra.

They were first introduced in the 14th century. Their main uses were by clergy to regulate masses and by sailors to mediate the speed of the ship. The only commons uses were as timers in kitchens and at chess matches. The sand glass was not nearly as influential as most other well known time devices, but

“of all the devices ever invented to measure time, the sandglass seems best able to symbolize our own feelings”
(p.26, LeLionnais)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Development of the Calendar


The passing of time is kept track of by most living things. Trees have rings growing a new one each year, shells grow another layer displaying their age, sedimentary rock can display minerals form centuries ago. As humans we do not show age in such a clear way, instead we developed the calendar. This has always been our device for keeping track of what occurred, and the order of which it occurred.

Before the calendar could be developed first there had to be a method of counting. The first method was of base 60 or sexagesimal. This system was developed by the Sumerians using the one thing that was always with them, their bodies.

They would use one hand to count to 12 by using their knuckles and the other to keep track of the number of times that 12 was reached.









The Sun and the Moon

The calendar first started was first started to track the seasons for once agriculture was developed The harvest became an essential part of people’s lives, dictating their schedules.

The early Babylonians would follow the sun for the days, keeping track of short periods of time, a day. The moon was followed for the seasons of the harvest as the original basis of the months. Then as a longer period still was the year. In each year there were twelve months, with each month being 28 days, the length of a moon cycle each year would progressively end earlier, from the year only being 336 days. This caused each year to earlier in the rotation around the sun than the pervious.

There were a few methods of fixing this. One was to add a thirtieth month, called the intercalary month.

The Egyptians also had a twelve month calendar based off the cycles of the moon which they corrected slightly differently. They lengthened their months to 30 days each, though still used the lunar calendar for religious purposes. They also added a thirtieth month to at the end of the year which was only five days. These last five days of the year were used as feast days

Weeks were developed in the 6th century BC by the Babylonians as a sub division of the month.  To have a period that was longer than a day, but shorter than a month.  The week is also based off of the moon, One week represents a phase of the moon.  With 28 days in the moon cycle and four phases in each cycle that left the week with 7 days in each.











Julian vs Gregorian

The next development in the calendar was made by Julius Caesar. In 45 BC the leap year was introduced as one day added to the end of every fourth year. He numbered the months to the number of days that are currently in each month. He also readjusted the calendar to begin the year with January as opposed to March. This accounts for September, October, November, and December meaning the seventh,eighth, ninth, and tenth month respectively. Originally January and February were the eleventh and twelfth months.

The last change that Julius made was the renaming the month of July from Quintilius (fifth month) to Julius after him. Augustus choose to do the same with Sextilius when he gained power. They enjoyed the summer months.

Through the years the Julian calendar fell out of sync with the actual year because it had not accounted for the fact that a year is not exactly 365.24 days but instead is approximately 365.24219. Because of this in 1582 pope Gregory xiii had a correction for this developed.

The Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that we use today. First had Italy readjust the calendar to jump forward 10 days. To stop the calendar from moving off again the leap year was reworked. Now every century year is no longer a leap year except for centuries that are divisible by 400. This correction the calendar is still not perfect but the calendar will only be ahead by 3 days after ten thousand years.

Readjusting the calendar was a difficult ordeal for many countries, All correcting at different times

England 1752
The English were not pleased that they lost 11 days of September 1752. They felt as though they had been robbed of 11 days of their lives. One day it was September 2nd and the next it was September 14th. Really they were all only day older but people and their perception of time felt as though they had grown 11 days older over night. At the time England begun their new year In march, beginning on March 25, known as Lady Day or England’s tax day, When 11 days were “lost” the government had to move the tax day by 11 days as well to avoid riots. this is why England’s tax day is April 6th today.

Sweden 1753
Sweden wanted to change to the Gregorian in 1700 and made a forty year plan to do it. The country decided that they were going to not take part in leap years for forty years to make up for the ten days. This meant that they would not be on either the Julian nor the Gregorian for the forty years between 1700 and 1740. The country would become one day closer every four years to aligning with the Gregorian calendar. This plan did not work for they did not abstain from the leap year in either 1704 or 1708. In 1712, still only one day off Sweden decided to return to the Julian and added a February 30th for that year.


Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The Start of Time

I choose to continue my research with a concentration on the history of time and how it developed. All the research done in the first few weeks had a basis of time with how time affected its evolution. That sparked my interest in how time is able to have such a great impact on our lives. It seems strange that everyone lives by this concept of time that we have created and everyone follows but it is an intangible object. People obsess over it, with a desire to slow down time or even stop it momentarily. There are numerous novels written about the subject exploring different forms of time travel and why it would be a necessary accomplishment.

They range from stories such as Sleeping Beauty where the main character sleeps for 100 years and wakes up the same age, to other movies such as Back to the Future, where the two main characters travel both to the future and past without changing their age.

Through preliminary research I was able to conclude that time is our best attempt at connecting out bodies to the earth, and further more to the solar system. Each element of time is inspired from either the human body , the sun or the moon.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Evolution or Revolution?

The evolution of ideas have a great affect on the revolutions. Revolutions come about from a realization that the ideals of the country are no longer in the best interest of the community as a whole. The current FLOW of the community is disrupted and it increases, thus creating an event; A REVOLUTION.

This is a disaster related topic by nature. no one wants to be in the revolution, but if the change is needed the people of the community will act. Once a revolution begins it cannot be stopped the idea has been planted and it will only grow. Once a revolution beings it is bound to inspire others to follow.

I believe that it would be interesting to look at how the specifically happened in the middle east between January 25, 2011 and now.

I would like to see how the information traveled.

How the architecture effected the revolts?

Why some of them worked and others failed?

Why some are still going on while others have ended?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Welcome to my Thoughts

I began this semester looking at topics that interested me such as:

Origins of objects
Re purposing trash for a different use
Religion/How cultures are formed
The way people have changed and evolved
The history of things that effect me

A constant in this list is the affect that history has and the story behind objects.

This lead me to look into time and the order of which events occur and objects are created

How much does something change if the time line of it’s construction is reordered?

Brought me to pursue the idea of evolution and time lines of events and objects. Through my studies I have looked into


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