A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Ston – Royal Museums Greenwich Shop
A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic Clocks by Chad Orzel

A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic Clocks by Chad Orzel

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Press the snooze button on your alarm once too often and you soon remember the importance of good timekeeping. That need to tell the time connects you to over five thousand years of human history, from the first solstice markers at Newgrange to quartz crystal oscillating in your watch today.

Science underpins time: measuring the movement of Sun, Earth and Moon, and unlocking the mysteries of quantum mechanics and relativity theory – the key to ultra-precise atomic clocks.

Yet time is also socially decided: the Gregorian calendar we use today came out of fraught politics, while the ancient Maya used sophisticated astronomical observations to produce a calendar system unlike any other. In his quirky and accessible style, Chad Orzel reveals the wondrous physics that makes time something we can set, measure and know.

Chad Orzel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College, where he carries out research in the field of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.

‘I came away from this brisk, chatty book feeling that the history of chronometry is a triumph of progress. With infectious enthusiasm [Orzel] catalogues the feats of skill and effort that have gone into marking time… Orzel dives deep into the nitty-gritty of physics, astronomy and engineering, but writes lucidly and leavens his material with jokes and anecdotes… ultimately, one comes away with a sense of awe at what human ingenuity can achieve… stimulating.’

-- Daily Telegraph

'In A Brief History of Timekeeping, Chad Orzel… turns his enthusiasm for time travel to something more tangible: how humans through the ages have measured the passage of time… Throughout the book, Orzel scoots backwards and forwards in time, treating us to illustrations of spectacular forgotten timepieces… The author’s enthusiasm doesn’t wane as he moves into the digital era, explaining how quartz-based wristwatches “democratised” time and serve as temporal “tuning forks” for the masses… As Orzel’s book makes clear, time, and its measurement, stands still for no one.’

-- George Bass, New Scientist

 

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