The Corpus Clock & Chronophage is not £1m strange, but close!

For £1,000,000,000, I expected the Corpus Clock — ostensibly the world's strangest clock — to be stranger. It's still pretty strange, I guess: a giant grasshopper and 60 illuminated slits cut into its face that tell the time. It's sort of like what kind of watch Lewis Carroll would design if he got a job with Tokyo Flash. Update: Times Online has more, including a surreal image of the Chronophage's creator polishing the suspended metal droplet at the center of the clock. – JJ Cambridge reveals the time-eater, Chronophage, devourer of hours [Times Online]
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19 Responses to The Corpus Clock & Chronophage is not £1m strange, but close!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the cost of this clock was a million British pounds rather than a billion. Either way, there are a few ways to better spend a million bucks, like optimus maximus keyboards for all your friends.

  2. Anonymous says:

    since when is 1,000,000,000 = 1m pound Brownlee? Lay off the sauce.

  3. Not a Doktor says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    £1m or £1,000,000,000. There’s a small difference there ;)

  5. sammich says:

    sammich @ 16 – no you won’t…
    but i ~have~ finally managed to see it today. it is satisfyingly strange, and bigger than i’d thought… i am, however, left with an urge to break the glass and replace the uniformly blue LEDs with multi-coloured ones…

  6. RJ says:

    It’s absolutely magnificent.

  7. Anonymous says:

    as an added benefit, it was invented by father time himself

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually, it is 500,000 quid. The 1,000,000 is a very loose conversion to American Dollars.

    Still, I would file this under CHRONOGASM.

  9. toaste says:

    It’s fascinating that this clock is fully mechanically driven. While in my opinion it could be improved by using optics to illuminate the slits with sunlight during the day, it’s still a far cry from my initial presumption that the internals were electric.

    The drive mechanism is quite clever, and the external escapement is pretty sweet as well. Also, the fact that it periodically speeds up, slows down, or stops while still keeping time is quite amazing.

  10. djn says:

    Ooh, that is actually very nice. Big chunky metal, the neat display system, the way the imagery is an integral part of the mechanism – not to mention the charmingly British gentleman that came up with it.I’ll have to make a detour to stare at it (shiny…) if I’m ever near Cambridge.

  11. Patrick Austin says:

    I think this is the best use of a million bucks that I’ve ever seen.

    More fancy clocks, fewer fancy bombs. That’s what I say.

  12. Waterlilygirl says:

    Am I the only one that finds this clock ugly?

  13. Not a Doktor says:

    Well get out of the former goths club then

  14. Art says:


    Dear RJ

    You can say THAT twice!
    I am speechlessly impressed.

    (The Brits never fail to knock my eyes out.)

    Thanks for the post.

  15. Waterlilygirl says:


  16. Simon Bradshaw says:

    @13; no, it used to be the case that the British understanding of a billion was equivalent to the US understanding of a trillion. But the definition of billion = 10^9 is universal over here now.

    We’ve always had transatlantic agreement on what a million is.

  17. Anonymous says:

    There is a serious problem with the British understanding of a Million to be equivalent to the US understanding of a Billion; one I thought may not have lingered into the 20th century much, much less the 21st.

    I haven’t figured exactly how the clock does the top of the minute/ top of the hour LED cycle flourish mechanically.

    I suspect a small knockoff, without locust, with the LEDs movement controlled electronically, to become commercially available for under fifty bucks.

  18. sammich says:

    Anonymous @ 13 – in fact British and American millions are both 1,000,000 – and always have been as far as I’m aware.

    The discrepancy was with our billions. The proper British billion was a million squared (1,000,000,000,000), a million to the power of 2, hence the ‘bi ‘ prefix, and a British trillion was a million to the power of 3 (1,000,000,000,000,000,000), hence the ‘tri’ prefix.

    When I was in school, last century, we learned about both, but always referred to the smaller one as ‘an American billion’, as did the BBC as I recall.

    The proper British billion quietly slipped away and died towards the end of the century, in the face of the Great US Cultural Onslaught, in which we still bask…

  19. sammich says:

    Also, the Chronophage looks magnificent :D (kettle thermostats and a huge shiny chronometer surely earn Dr John Taylor a place in ~my~ pantheon)
    …and I’ll be in Cambridge next week!
    … just have to think of a suitable sacrifice…

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