The 10,000 Year Clock

If you were worth more than $23 billion, what would you do for fun? According to Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon, the answer is basically throw money at anything that interests you. I actually really identify with this, because as a kid I had a wealth of Legos and basically built whatever cool thing I could imagine. Bezos does the same thing – only with bricks of cash instead of plastic. He has already invested in a handful of futuristic energy projects (think fusion and green oil) and even announced this morning that his team had recovered the rocket boosters used in the Apollo 11 mission from the ocean floor. However, his most interesting and unusual project to date maybe the construction of a giant clock inside of a mountain in West Texas

Designed to be more of a symbol than a functioning timekeeper, this clock was the brainchild of a man named Danny Hillis. In 1989, he began working on an idea for something that would inspire people to be more forward-thinking in realizing the potential in our civilization. He eventually settled on the idea of the clock because of its power as a symbol of time. To reflect the massive time scale this symbol would idealize, he originally imagined the clock ticking once a year, with other functions to mark the gravity of certain milestones such as the “coo-coo” sounding each millennium.

Jeff Bezos joined the project in the mid 2000’s, and it has since progressed rapidly. The site of the clock will be in the Sierra Diablo Mountain Range in West Texas; it will be purposefully difficult to reach, the intent being that a commitment to reach the clock will also help cement a commitment to the ideals that the clock is being built to represent. The journey will require a two-hour drive from the nearest airport, a 2,000-foot climb up a rugged trail, a short cable-tram ride, and a descent into the mountain.

The design of the clock has also continually evolved since the project has progressed. It will be built to massive scale, many magnitudes longer than the prototypes shown above. The current plan calls for several anniversary chambers, one for each one, 10, 100, 1,000, and 10,000 year anniversary. On each anniversary, a special function will be mechanically triggered to mark each event. The one-year chamber will feature the orrery shown below that will display an accurate model of our solar system as well as man-made probes that are currently in it. The 10-year chamber is yet to be designed, and the other three chambers will be left for future generations to design.

Although the clock is still many years away from completion, construction has progressing rapidly since Bezos joined the project. Most of the excavations are reported to be complete and fabrication of the clock parts has begun. If you are interested in receiving updates, send a blank e-mail to


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