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Time To Have Fun

Throughout this website you will see how time is related to physics, psychology, art, entertainment, philosophy, history, culture, measurement, and so much more. It is amazing how much time has become part of life on Earth, yet we seldom notice how deeply it entwines itself into our everyday lives and topics of daily conversation. Though time is a tool that is embraced and used universally to help us be productive and get things done, it also can be used purely for fun! The concept of time is incredibly broad and can be explored from countless angles. The possibilities for time-related research are practically endless just as are the opportunities to explore time simply for the fun of it. You can time yourself to see how fast you can swim two laps, or set the time when you’re baking a cake, or keep time to the music as you sing or play an instrument, or wait for the right time to pop the question. So many things in human life are dependent on the passage of time. So, knowing that time is such an important part of human life, why shouldn’t we explore the more whimsical aspects of it? The answer is that we should - thus the reason for including this very section.

Time is the cornerstone of many clever sayings and famous quotes by different people in different cultures from around the world. This section presents a list of such sayings, a series of time-based fun facts, and a piece on some interesting collections of timepieces.

Fun Facts about Time

The fun that you can have with time is endless: spending it, thinking about it, dedicating it to something important. Time belongs to everyone to experience in whatever ways they choose. This website entitled “A Matter of Time”, covers a wide variety of subjects on time and presents a wealth of interesting information. This page presents a listing of fun-facts found while researching the myriad of topics we have compiled on this topic. Here you can get a perspective on time from every end of the spectrum. These fun facts are in no particular order; they are listed here to tickle brains, encourage imaginations, educate, and most importantly, to spark interest. See how many new things you can learn about time—time history, time science, time culture, and more.

1.One of the best methods for determining something's age, especially for archeologists, is carbon dating. Carbon-14 is a substance that decays approximately 50 percent every 5570 years. Since Carbon-14 appears in almost every substance, archeologists use it to tell how old certain ancient artifacts or other buried treasures are.
2.The gnomon was actually an earlier version of the sundial and probably the first device used to tell time. This “device” was essentially a stick in the earth which cast a shadow on markings in the dirt. The Berlin Museum houses a fragment of one of the oldest gnomons known to man.
3.The Romans constructed their first sundial in 164 B.C.
4.It is said that Galileo discovered the properties of a pendulum while watching a lamp swing back and forth in the Cathedral of Pisa.
5.The Martinot family of clockmakers provided service to French rulers such as the famous and powerful Sun King, Louis XIV.
6.According to a man named Paul Couderc, only one thousandth of a second is gained in sixty years of traveling at the speed of sound.
7.The ancient Greeks believed that the sun itself was actually a god named Helios. According to Greek mythology, Helios rode across the sky each day in a fiery chariot.
8.The Inuit people of North America used to light lamps to celebrate the return of the sun after a long and dark winter.
9.The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. The New Year is ushered in by the blowing of a ram’s horn.
10.What makes a difference in seasons is not how close or far away from the sun the earth is in its orbit. What makes the difference between summer and winter is whether or not the earth is leaning towards the sun. If the North Pole leans away from the sun, the northern half of the globe is experiencing winter and the southern half is experiencing summer. If the North Pole leans toward the sun, the opposite is true.
11.Some places in the world have time zones that are offset in quarter-hour increments like Nepal (with UTC +5:45) and New Zealand's Chatham Island (with UTC +12:45).
12.Some Aztec stone calendars could be as large as 13 feet in diameter.
13.In Ecuador, every New Year’s Eve is celebrated by burning the old year in effigy on top of a bonfire.
14.The Hindu New Year is called Diwali, and falls in October or November.
15.The ancient Greeks lived by a ten-day week.
16.Early clocks only showed hours. How do you think you would feel if you only could tell time by hours and could not count the minutes?
17.A.M. stands for the Latin words ante meridiem. Antemeridian means that the sun has not yet passed the meridian and it is before noon. P.M. stands for the Latin words post meridiem. Postmeridian means that the sun has passed the meridian and it is afternoon.
18.The ancient Mayans lived by four different calendars: one that was lunar, one that was solar, one was based on festivals, and the last was based on the movements of Venus.
19.In one second, a photon of light travels about 300,000,000 meters. Would you challenge a photon of light to a race?
20.The age of the universe is believed to be about 12 to 13 billion years old.
21.According to an English system of time units, a “moment” is equal to one minute and thirty seconds. Take a moment and think about that.
22.A jiffy is a brief period of time lasting approximately 1/100 of a second.
23.A quinquennium is a period of time lasting 5 years.
24.A galactic year is a period of time lasting approximately 230 earth-years. It is the time it takes our sun to orbit the Milky Way galaxy.
25. If a person counted at the rate of 100 numbers per minute and kept counting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and never stopped, it would take him nearly 7 days to count to a million, just over 19 years to count to a billion, and over190 centuries to count to a trillion.

Unique Time: The Most Interesting and Unusual Timepieces

If someone asked you to picture the object you most often use to tell the time, a few things may come to your mind. You may envision an analog wall clock, a digital alarm clock, a wristwatch, pocket watch, or even the town clock. For many people around the world today, one of these is probably what they use to tell time from day to day. Still, there are many time keeping devices that have been made throughout history which are much stranger and more interesting than today’s standard timepieces. Some of these timepieces are antique or even ancient in nature, while others are more modern.

One example of an older method of keeping time was the burning of candles. In the medieval times, King Alfred the Great—an Anglo-Saxon king who lived from around 848 to 900 A.D—is given credit for the invention of a time candle (Hutchinson). These candles were segmented in a way that each segment would represent an amount of time. As the candle melted down, one could tell how much time had passed. Oil burning was used in the same way. The oil fed the wick of the candle, and over time the level of oil in a glass case would drop. The changing levels of oil could be easily measured by tick marks on the glass case.

“Candle Clock.” Online Image. Science Museum, London. 02 Apr. 2007 . Reproduced with written permission.

Another interesting instrument used to tell time was the sundial. An ordinary sundial is little more than an instrument that tells time based on a shadow cast on it by an object (Hutchinson). Obviously, sundials had a critical drawback: they only worked with ample sunlight. There wasn’t any one aspect of the original sundial that was unusual in and of itself. However, there were ways in which the sundial was fashioned which were extremely clever. A particularly convenient example was the “ring dial” which was a finger ring with markings on it to help the user tell the time. A small stick could be placed into a hole atop the ring, and the wearer would have an instant portable sundial. These were probably used around the 18th century A.D (Shaffer 8).

“Sundial.” Online Image. 02. Apr. 2007.

The world witnessed the invention of an all-encompassing timepiece with the creation of the 19th century cosmochronotrope. This complicated contraption is American in origin and displays various times in relation to the motion of the earth (Hutchinson). The cosmochronotrope actually has affixed to it a working model of the earth which rotates on its axis every 24 hours. It also contains an illuminated sphere representing the sun which continually illuminates the appropriate part of the globe as the earth rotates (Hutchinson). In addition to all of this, the cosmochronotrope has a standard clock built to it as well. The cosomochronotrope certainly seems to embody every mechanism used up until then to tell time!

In 1822 a man named Joseph Ives patented a clever idea (Shaffer 44). Instead of filling the space on a mantle clock’s middle tablet with a painting or some type of wood, he decided to try putting a mirror in the space. (This tablet is the space that is located beneath a mantle clock’s face). The top tablet on the clock showed the clock face, the middle contained an elegant mirror, and the bottom revealed the clock’s pendulum. Now when someone wanted to check the time, he could also check his hair or his shirt collar.

The Renaissance clocks that were introduced in the 16th and early 17th century were far more ornate than their predecessors. They were unique in that they served primarily as decorative pieces of furniture, they used metallic wheels for the first time and, they often focused on describing astrological aspects of the universe rather than telling time.
The clock’s ability to tell time was secondary to the fact that the clock would sound its chimes regularly or have various figurines move about at regular intervals. Those that did have clock dials only had hour hands (Shaffer 67). It was more important to their owners that these highly decorative clocks kept track of the movements of the heavenly bodies and zodiac information than it was that they kept accurate time. The Renaissance represented a newfound interest in astrological sciences, and the clocks of the age demonstrated this.

One of the most interesting and most oddly shaped timepieces in the 17th century took the form of an inclined plane or ramp with a cylindrical clock on top of it. The clock rolled down the incline as the week passed, so it kept track of the seven days of the week. After it was placed at the top of the ramp (Sunday), it would slowly creep down toward the Saturday mark, taking one full week to complete its journey. To “wind” this clock, all one needed to do was place the rolling clock back at Sunday since the clock relied solely on gravity to activate its clock movement! (Shaffer). The dial remained upright throughout so that you could always read it as you would a normal clock.

There were many, smaller personal clocks made throughout history that had interesting shapes and designs. There were intricate ball-shaped, metal-encased clocks from the Renaissance era. Similar to the “ring dial” was a more modern version of time jewelry: a pinky ring with a watch set inside. Imagine having a tiny clock on your pinky finger. Do you think it would still be large enough to read the time? Some of these mini-clocks took on strange shapes, such as a watch set into a metal skull, or a clock face revealed by the spreading wings of a gold beetle surrounded by elegant jewels (Shaffer). Many small clocks of the nineteenth century would be decorated with elaborate designs and colors, or even portraits. Throughout history there have been many different types of interesting mini-clocks and watches.

The last unusual clock that we choose to introduce is a fairly famous one: the black and white Kit-Cat Klock with its moving eyes and wagging tail. The Kit-Cat Klock was introduced in America in the 1930’s during America’s Great Depression. These clocks have been popular ever since and can still be seen in many homes today. With the help of gravity, the eyes and tail of the Kit-Cat Klock move simultaneously and help to keep track of time. Out of all the unusual clocks listed here, the Kit-Cat Klock is probably one of the most whimsical.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that although unusual clocks may not be common, they certainly are around, and have been for quite some time. Throughout history, unusual clocks such as these have been produced by some of the most creative and pioneering minds of the times. Since ancient times, people have been finding new and more innovative ways to keep time. What types of fascinating new timepieces will the future bring? We can only wait and see!

Quotes, Sayings, and Phrases about Time

"All that really belongs to us is time. Even he who has nothing else has that."
Baltasar Gracian (Spanish Jesuit – 17th century)

As stated in the quote below, everyone has time. Still, time means something different to everyone. There is no better way to see how various people from different walks of life and parts of the world view time than to listen to what they have to say about time. Below is a list of quotes and sayings about time. Some may have come from a book; others may have come straight from someone’s mouth. However, all of the quotes convey their own unique messages about the elusive subject that is time. Following the list of quotes is another list of common time phrases, commonly used by people all over the world. Depending on where you are from, some of the phrases may be familiar to you, while others you may never have heard before. As you browse through these powerful words and clever phrases, think about how often ‘time’ comes up in your everyday conversation or reading.

Time Quotes, Sayings, and Proverbs:

"There is a right time for everything:
A time to be born; A time to die;
A time to plant; A time to harvest;
A time to kill; A time to heal;
A time to destroy; A time to rebuild;
A time to cry; A time to laugh;
A time to grieve; A time to dance;
A time for scattering stones; A time for gathering stones;
A time to hug; A time not to hug;
A time to find; A time to lose;
A time for keeping; A time for throwing away;
A time to tear; A time to repair;
A time to be quiet; A time to speak up;
A time for loving; A time for hating;
A time for war; A time for peace;"
– Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

"Time will consume all things including itself."
– Indian proverb

"Time is an appearance which takes the form of day and night."
– Sextus Empiricus (Greek philosopher – 200 A.D.)

"Tempus edax rerum." (Time conquers all)
– Ovid (Roman poet – 40 B.C.)

"Time flees from my hand like sand in the wind."
– Victor Hugo (French writer – 19th century)

"Like the orderly wheels of a clock…"
– Dante’s "Divine Comedy" (Italian poet – 13th century)

"The time of this life is but a moment."
– Pascal (French philosopher – 17th century)

"Man measures time and time measures man."
– Italian proverb

"The last hour sounds for all alike."
– Spanish proverb

"You, yourself, are the time; your senses are your clocks."
– Angelus Silesius (German mystic – 17th century)

"A petal falls. An instant. An age."
– Basho (haiku) (Japanese poet 17th century)

"Time will heal time’s wounds."
– French proverb

"One says: ‘Two hours more.’ The other says: ‘Only forty-five minutes.’ I look at my watch and say to the first: ‘Time lies heavy on your hands’; and to the second: ‘You can hardly wait—according to my watch, there is an hour and a half left.’"
– Pascal (French philosopher – 17th century)

"Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save."
– Will Rogers.

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American author 1803-1882)

"You cannot kill time without injuring eternity."
- Henry David Thoreau (American author 1817-1862)

"Time is the wisest counselor of all. "
-Pericles (Athenian statesman – 425B.C.)

"All my possessions for a moment of time."
- Queen Elizabeth 1st last words (British monarch 1558-1603)

Phrases Using Time:

A stitch in time saves nine

Time is everything

It’s about time.

I’m having the time of my life.

No time like the present.

Could you spare some time?

Time’s a-wasting!