The celebrated ‘time-eating’ Chronophage clock, which shows an irregular passage of time with some minutes apparently passing more quickly than others, is to go on display at London’s Science Museum next month.
Invented by Dr John Taylor OBE, who invented the cordless electric kettle and the kettle thermostat which automatically switches off a kettle at the right temperature, the clock has no hands or numbers and displays time through light slits.
Because of the irregular way it depicts the passage of time – designed to mimic our differing perceptions of time – the clock “corrects” itself every five minutes.
The Chronophage stands 3.3 metres high and is made of gold-plate, stainless steel, and electro-mechanical components and features a large kinetic sculpture of a mythical creature walking atop the 1.5 metre golden face.
The creature, an integral part of the mechanics of the clock, appears to devour time -the name Chronophage literally means Time-Eater from the Greek: Chronos (Time) and Phago (I eat). The hour is tolled by the sound of a chain clanking into a small wooden coffin concealed in the back of the clock to remind us that our time on earth is limited.
Dr Taylor, who was awarded an OBE for his services to horology in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List and is the recipient of four Queen’s Awards for Innovation, says “the perceived duration of each minute varies from person to person and depends on circumstances.
“As you get older, you become more aware that time isn’t on your side and every minute that passes is gone forever. The Chronophage shows this quite graphically as it relentlessly devours each and every minute.”
The Chronophage will go on display at the Science Museum from Monday 18 April and visitors will be able to enjoy the clock as part of the museum’s free admission until October.