Chronophage

If you have visited Cambridge University in UK, you might have come across a large strange looking clock at the junction of Bene’t Street and Trumpington Street.

The clock’s face is about 1.5m in diameter. It has no hands or numerals but displays the time by slits in the clock face backlit with blue LEDs.  These slits are in three concentric rings representing hours, minutes and seconds.

The dominating feature of the clock is a grim-looking metal creature quite like a locust.grasshopper clock

John C Taylor who invented the clock calls the creature – Chronophage. It literally means “time eater,” from the Greek  word for “time” (chronos) and “I eat” (phago).

It moves its mouth to “eat up” the seconds as they pass, and occasionally it even “blinks” in seeming satisfaction. The constant motion of the Chronophage also produces an eerie grinding as its jaw of teeth devours every second that passes.

The Chronophage was designed to be terrifying. “He’ll eat up every minute of your life, and as soon as one has gone he’s salivating for the next,” said Taylor.

For viewers, the Chronophage is “deeply disturbing” because it reminds them of the inevitable passing of time.

The clock is entirely accurate but only once every five minutes. The rest of the time, the pendulum swings erratically. It will slow to a near stop and then race ahead, reminding us of occasions when time flies or seems as though it has come to a standstill. The blue lights may whirl around the clock one second and then suddenly appear to freeze the next. This erratic motion reflects life’s “irregularity.” Much like what Einstein described, “An hour sitting next to a pretty girl can be like a minute, and a minute sitting on a hot stove can seem like an hour.”

Many would not notice but at the back of the clock, a chain rattles in a tiny wooden coffin, telling anyone who could hear of his mortality.

Below the clock is an inscription “mundus transit et concupiscentia eius.” Translated means, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

John Taylor built this $1.5 million clock to remind viewers not to take time for granted.

Our biggest issue with time is not how to plan and organize our time. We have many Apps these days to help us organize our work and time well.

Our biggest issue is being convinced we don’t have a lot of time.

We always complain we don’t have time and yet we act as though time would not end for us.

It is only when we truly realized our time is running out that we began to do what really matters and what really counts for eternity.

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should” (TLB Psalm 90:12).

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