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Beverly Clock (wikipedia.org)
289 points by tzury on Feb 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

See also Cox's Clock: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cox's_timepiece

I'm sure Wikipedia used to have a much better write up, and more info on other clocks of a similar type. It's a shame they started on deleting and merging so much of the historic and esoterica - they lost a lot of accuracy and good data in the process.

Now the best write up and photo is at http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/POWER/oddclocks/oddclocks...

Off topic, but I have never understood Wikipedia's intense drive to rid itself of anything interesting or unusual or esoteric. It's text in a database, you're not running out of space, nor are you diminishing the quality of other articles!

I'm much more an inclusionist than a deletionist. Still, taken to an extreme, it's not hard to see the problem with a vast number of articles about obscure and hard to verify topics that are poorly maintained. They're just text in a database but they can bring down the overall level of the encyclopedia.

Yeah, I think poorly maintained or particularly obscure articles should simply be flagged as such for the user. If it's really poor or has major problems which cannot be fixed, sure, go ahead and delete it, but deleting documents just because they're rarely accessed doesn't seem like the point of Wikipedia. At the very least, the content could be put into a long term archive of some sort instead of outright deleted. I mean, database partitioning exists for a reason.

Maybe they could have something like the 'show comments rated over x' feature on Slashdot? By default you only get curated high quality articles but you can choose to lower the bar?

It's an encyclopedia; its content should be encyclopedic. A website that holds on to everything else would be something different. While that's also fine, it's a different project with a different goal.

I know citing definitions only gets you so far, but the first definition Google provides for encyclopedic is "comprehensive in terms of information."

If the content starts to touch topics which are too niche, there is a risk that no-one will be able to verify it and the information will become unreliable.

Where would be a good place to actually store that niche knowledge? I agree that it doesn't really belong on Wikipedia... But it could still be valuable. Maybe even more valuable than "normal" content because if it's lost it's lost for good.

In an ideal world, on the free decentralized web of interconnected webpages indexed by search engines and archived in several places for posterity. In the current state, I suppose something like Wikia but for anything? It definitely deserves some place.

Amazingly I got useful information on an angelfire website the other day... hope things like that stay around forever.

Maybe Wikidata if the knowledge can be expressed in a somewhat structured way? They don't have the deletion as Wikipedia does, AFAIK.

wikia.com? Your own wiki? Talk pages on Wikipedia?

Blog it and crawl it with the Internet Archive

But the public perception of encyclopedic has changed since the marriage of data storage with computation.

A printed volume has limitations that do not exist in a database or a filesystem. A wiki encyclopedia can easily preserve all information ever added to it, and still present it through as many interfaces as it likes.

If articles are tagged with enough metadata, it would not be extraordinarily difficult to produce all of the following automatically, with no further human intervention: abridged dictionary, unabridged dictionary, single-volume encyclopedia, multi-volume encyclopedia, single-disc encyclopedia, all math and science, all history, all art, all art minus the webcomics, all meaningful human knowledge, every last bit of trivia ever recorded, and everything written by anyone named Steven or Stephen.

It could be like moderating an entire library with the Slashdot system and then setting the default browse level to +4 or +5. But instead, the moderator-tyrants delete anything that they believe to be (-1, unimportant), and they can't be effectively metamoderated by the community.

And this is the problem with putting online and adhering to C19th definitions of information optima. It's time for a new format and more adaptive information metaformat.

I agree, and I've made this point myself in the past. Notability standards do serve a purpose, but it should no longer have to do with a scarcity that doesn't exist to the same degree as with printed material.

You can look up the version histories, but that's rather manual and labour-intensive. Unless someone feels like writing a script or two for that...

Anyone know if such a script exists?

Looking at the history of that Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cox%27s_timepiece... I don't see any major deletions, so I doubt Wikipedia ever had a longer writeup of this at any point. (Unless something was deleted from even the history, for containing defamation or copyright violation.)

Please feel free to add the info though, if you can find verifiable/reliable source to cite for it.

I did spend a few mins in the history on both pages trying to find a reference to what I had in mind. Perhaps it was copyright or a see-also to something more notable - I doubt I'd have a positive memory of defamation.

It's long enough ago I can't remember the exact route through that rabbit hole. Nonetheless the other point stands that much has been trimmed that seems like should easily meet the bar of adequate notability.

My experience of Wikipedia is that very little is deleted if it has citations to a reliable source (like a book by a reputed publisher, say: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable...). Notability can be the reason for deletion of an article, especially about people or companies or bands (because typically the people involved create the article), but usually, having citations in reliable sources generally implies notability as well.

(At least, that's my impression. You can gain your own impression by looking at history, e.g. for article-deletion, here's the discussion/debate log from a day in the middle of last year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletio... )

Unfortunately, stuff that someone wrote on Wikipedia by themselves (without reference to some other source) does tend to get deleted, even if the person who wrote happened to be an expert… but that's the goal of Wikipedia: to summarized published material, rather than to contain original material. (See the “No original research” policy page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research )

This policy does mean there's less useful information on Wikipedia than there could potentially be, but there do exist people who make up stuff, so having uncited material is problematic.

Notability is problematic in a lot of ways. In principle, just about anything is notable if you get local enough with respect to either geography or subject matter. You also have the irony of an online encyclopedia that's more inclined to value more traditional types of references (books, printed articles) even if they're hard to track down.

And, as you say, no original research pretty much guarantees that if something hasn't been documented somewhere credible, at least online, it tends to get excluded.

That said, the system works reasonably a fair bit of the time. I'm not even sure that the biggest issues are the result of Wikipedia policies. It's more that no system of this type works well when there's controversy and that even articles that were originally written well tend to accumulate random additions, factoids, and changes that degrade them over time.

People have tried alternatives to address perceived Wikipedia shortcomings. Google Knol was one such example that didn't work out. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knol

I cannot find much valuable content on deletionpedia.org in general and nothing interesting about clocks. If you know about articles with valuable information that were lost, you can ask an administrator to give you the page's text. Full edit history for all deleted pages is kept and more than a hundred administrators are happy to give it to you, it's just not publicly viewable because it can contain copyright violations, personal information, and so on.

Somewhat related would be Atmos clocks. I see them on eBay listed for surprisingly low cost.

So this is probably a dumb question...but is the clock at all accurate? It says it stops periodically when there isn't sufficient fluctuation in temperature so do they manually correct it after?

I have an Atmos clock that's probably 40ish years old, handed down from inlaws, and while I'm sure it needs some service to get it up to snuff, it looses about a minute a month, give or take.

I don't see how the winding mechanism should impact its accuracy. Obviously, it it runs out of energy, it needs to be reset once working again. I'd think that goes without saying.

However, the mechanism that makes the clock tick-tock once per second is, again, separate from the winding mechanism, and I don't see why you'd have to (as another poster commented), "choose 1".

The article mentions that it has stopped a few times, which would affect accuracy.

The Clock of the Long Now operates on similar principles (temperature difference), but separates timekeeping from the display mechanisms in part to maintain accuracy.

And also so that the power required for the display may be redirected to the more critical timekeeping function if necessary. If you only have enough power left to keep time for the next month or to power the display for the next day, you turn the display off and hope that more power is added to the system during that month.

Yes exactly. The other reason is to build in the notion of human interaction.

I own a similar clock (the Atmos clock mentioned in the article). It loses several minutes per month. FWIW, I live in Los Angeles and it has been the same regardless of time of year over the past decade or so. It's great that I don't need to wind it, and it's mesmerizing to watch, but it's not the most accurate clock in the world.

If it is consistently slow (or fast) then it sounds like it should be correctable; most good clockwork mechanisms have some way of adjusting the beat rate.

Indeed Atmos clocks do have a speed adjustment, though they are very sensitive. I'd contact a professional since any repairs to them get expensive very fast.

I also have an Atmos. It is inaccurate to the tune of hours per day :( I have not yet taken measurements to find out which way it needs adjusting.

Tell the time, run forever, choose 1

I wonder if a similar principle could have been used in the construction of the late Dr David Jones’s bicycle wheel:


This was my exact thought. I guess all these attempts at perpetual motion machines are variations of heat engines at some level of operation.

At the least this clock could take the title of longest running 'fake' perpetual motion machine.

It says the clock has never been manually wound, but can it be manually wound? It's weird they keep repeating this in the article (and all the linked articles) because it seems it's just not how it works, a bit like a solar powered watch.

Sure it can, just raise the weight by hand (or, if I've misunderstood it, do whatever other operation is caused by the change in pressure).

It probably doesn't have a winder, but that doesn't mean it can't be wound.

Or just give the clock a warm, friendly hug.

Yes that would make sense. It seems it's the article that's not making much sense:

> While the clock has not been wound [...] it has stopped on a number of occasions.

> when the ambient temperature has not fluctuated sufficiently to absorb the requisite amount of energy, the clock will not function

...so it's been wound.

No, after it was initially wound, it hasn't been wound by a person again. It has stopped, but it has restarted on its own without human intervention.

For all we know, it never had to be initially wound.

It reminds me of Triggers Broom... he's had the same broom for 20 years...


The very next sentence:

“However, after environmental parameters readjust, the clock begins operating again.”

This suggests a lack of manual intervention.

31 micro-watt-hours. Wow.

Analog clocks don't have much to do, but I'm glad we still use them.

That got me curious about digital clock chips.

A quick search netted me this: https://www.ablicinc.com/en/doc/datasheet/real_time_clock/S3...

They specify a typical current of 0.25 uA at 3V supply, that's 0.75 uW power. So an energy of 18 uWh over 24h.

Same ballpark, but does not move gears (just talks on the "phone" ;-)

The STM32L0x1 series has just a bit more at 0.9 uW (stop mode + RTC), but it gets you a full microcontroller.

I am unsure if we have enough of an energy budget to get us some display (e-ink likely) (and the MCU also needs some extra energy for the updates) though.

I think for an apples to apples comparison you'd need to include also some display/indicator system too, which for electrical clock would account for significant portion of the total energy use.

I'm surprised to see Dunedin pop up twice in one day one Hackernew. Maybe NZ is more influential than I thought.

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