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Time Measurement

Nature volume 140, page 499 (18 September 1937) | Download Citation



THE history and development of time measurement have already been described in a Science Museum Handbook ("Time Measurement", Part 1). The second part of the handbook which has recently been issued (London: H.M. Stationery Office. 2s. net), contains a detailed description of the objects in "The Time Measurement Collection at the Science Museum, South Kensington". The exhibits, ranging from the ancient Egyptian shadow clocks and water clocks to modern electric time-keepers, include sundials, mechanical clocks, watches and chronometers, escapement models and chronographs, as well as various auxiliary devices such as striking mechanisms, time recorders and time switches. Introductory remarks to each chapter explain the system of classification adopted, and outline the general principles involved in the respective groups of instruments. Many of the exhibits at the Science Museum are shown in continuous operation, while others can be operated by visitors—a facility that appears to receive perpetual appreciation. In addition, several of the more delicate watch mechanisms are illustrated by large-scale models. It may be noted that Harrison's four marine timekeepers (the fourth, completed in 1759, being the chronometer which won for Harrison the British Government prize of £20,000) are now represented in the Museum only by photographs, the originals themselves, long associated with the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, having been transferred to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. This handbook with its numerous illustrations provides an admirable introduction to a study of the Time Measurement Collection, and it will also serve as a useful handbook of reference for other occasions.

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