September 3, 2009

Lunar Clock To Be Built By River Thames

Scientists and artists say that by 2012, they plan to build a 130-foot lunar clock along the River Thames.

The goal is to create a new London landmark that is close to the proposed area for the Olympic stadium, which is at East India Dock six miles along the river from Westminster Palace.

The artists are hoping that the clock will be as iconic as Big Ben is, which has been keeping time now for 150 years.

Currently, the site is an unkempt nature reserve. 

Laura Williams, an East London artist, told BBC news that the clock would be powered by the tides from the Thames.

"There are three giant concentric rings made from recycled glass," she said. "Light shines through from the glass in time with the Moon's cycles so the largest ring shows the lunar phase.

"Gradually the light waxes on all the way around the ring and connects full circle when it's full Moon.

"The second ring is like the big hand of the clock. It's a marker of light that tracks the Moon around the globe so that's the lunar day cycle.

"The third ring - the smallest - is the small hand that tracks the tide as it goes from high tide to low."

The clock is donned Aluna, which is a word from the Kogi indigenous people of Columbia.

"It means memory, possibility," Williams said. "It's also being in tune with the planet's rhythms and living in harmony with our planet."

David Rooney, curator of time at London's Science Museum, is going to be part of the project as well.

He said that people are "completely besotted with clocks and watches."

"Isn't it about time that we looked up and out a little bit to those natural time cycles of this spinning rock underneath that Moon we all see?

"It's these time cycles that we human beings are wired to - the patterns of day and night."

Many cultures around the world have their own lunar-based calendars. 

Dr. Usama Hasan, a Muslim astronomer, said that in this age of iPods and atomic clocks, there is a need for an older way of measuring time.

"For practical purposes, calculating the exact time is the way forward of course," he said, "but I think you lose a lot of spirit to the way the world works.

"That's why I don't wear a watch and I still judge time, especially the daily prayer times from light and darkness.

"Aluna is a project which tries to connect us back to the cosmic cycle, with nature. I think that's very important especially in the very technological age we live in."

Williams said that a number of large corporations have offered their help with this project.


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