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An unusual clock outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College

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Erratic Mechanics
Grasshopper Movement
Grim Appearance
The Corpus Clock is one of Cambridge’s most recent sites of interest, and one of the most ingenious. Situated on the outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, the 24-carat gold plated clock was conceived and funded by Corpus Christi alumni John C. Taylor. He invested 5 years in its creation and the project cost £1million with 200 people involved in its construction. It was officially unveiled on 19th September 2008 by world renowned physicist and Cambridge professor, Stephen Hawking.

The Corpus Clock
Photo © Rror (CC)
The clock was named as one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008. With a diameter of 1.5 meter, the gold plated stainless steel disc is an impressive site. It has no numbers or hands but rather displays the time by opening up individual slits in the face, which are all backlit with blue LEDs. Being entirely mechanical, the clock has no digital or electrical input, except for a small electric motor which powers the diodes.

Tourists admire the clock in King's Parade

Did You Know?

The clock is only accurate once every 5 minutes. The rest of the time, the pendulum may seem to catch or stop, and the lights may lag or, then, race to get ahead. According to its designer, this erratic motion reflects life's irregularity.
The Corpus clock is crowned with a sculpture of a metal insect, which creator Taylor has named Chronophage. This literally means time-eater in Greek. Its mouth part appears to eat up the seconds as the clock ticks by and is said to express the inevitable passing of time. Below the clock is engraved an inscription from the Vulgate 1 John 2:17 mundus transit et concupiscentia eius which means the world passeth away, and the lust thereof.

A close up of the beast
Conceived as a public work of art, the Corpus Clock was apparently deliberately designed to be “terrifying”, a prominent reminder to all who pass that time is constantly on our heals and eating up every minute of our lives. The Corpus Christi clock is site a not to be missed amongst Cambridge’s many points of interest. Set against a backdrop of historic buildings and cobbled streets, the clock almost jars against the quaint urban setting. However, it remains an iconic example of modern ingenuity, whilst portraying that most ancient of all concepts, the very passing of time itself…
Visitor Information
The clock runs 24 hours, but is only accurate every 5 minutes.

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