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Walking down the main street of Cambridge past the beautiful architecture of the various colleges, we saw a group of people on the corner watching something.  On closer inspection, it was a phenomenal “clock”.

on the corner of Cambridge. Photo by me.

On a corner of Cambridge. Photo by me.

The Corpus Clock is outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, in the UK. It is beautiful, large and very sculptural. It was conceived and funded by John C. Taylor, an old member of the college, and officially unveiled 19 September 2008 by Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking.

IMG_8513The clock’s face is 24-carat gold-plated stainless steel.  It has no hands or numbers but displays the time by opening individual slits in the clock face, backlit with blue LEDs; these slits are arranged in three concentric rings displaying hours, minutes and seconds.

Of course what you notice first is the intricate metal sculpture of an insect similar to a grasshopper or locust.  Taylor calls this beast “Chronophage” (literally, time eater). It moves its mouth as if to eat up the seconds as they pass, and occasionally blinks. The Chronophage is affectionately known by students variously as “Rosalind” or “Hopsy”.


Below the clock is the inscription from the Vulgate 1 John 2:17: which translates as “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof”.


Makes you think.