It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re absorbed in solving our crosswords, but most of you tell me it is time well spent!
The means of keeping time began with the observation of day following night. As early as 3500 B.C.the Babylonians started using a sundial, an instrument that estimates the time of day by tracking the movement of the sun’s shadow.
The Egyptians invented the water clock, consisting of a pot with a hole in the bottom. People could easily tell the hour of the day and night by noting the water’s level in the bowl. This was the first timepiece that worked independently of the sun. Further progress came with the invention of the hourglass or sand clock which possibly originated on sailing ships. In China candles or incense were used to measure time. By the Middle Ages the first mechanical clock had been designed.
The word clock derives from the Medieval Latin word clocca, meaning bell. This Latin word may have been of Irish origin, reaching English via Middle Dutch klocke. Clocks were bells that were rung to announce the hours, although they were not very accurate!
These bell clocks were referred to as turret clocks. One of the world’s oldest turret clocks, dating back to 1386 is the Salisbury Cathedral Clock in England.
Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock, often appears in our crosswords.
Big Ben is, strictly speaking, the name of the bell hanging in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, but the nickname is commonly used to refer to the whole clock tower, hence our clues ‘London clock bell’ and ‘London clock tower’.
Big Ben is famous for its accuracy. Small adjustments are made regularly, by putting a penny on or taking a penny off the top of the pendulum. Adding one penny creates a 0.4 second adjustment by increasing the rate at which the pendulum swings.
We’ve been working round the clock to get this latest issue to you, so start puzzling.
There’s no time like the present!