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John Taylor recently invented a clock called the Chronophage. Literally it means time eater. It was donated to Corpus Christi College at Cambridge. It combines the Greek word for time, chronos, and the word phageo meaning “to eat”. A monster-looking grasshopper with a mouthful of teeth devours every second with the movement of its jaw. A chain rattles in a tiny wooden coffin at the back of the clock, and then slams shut marking the tolling of the hour. Taylor, 72, says it is the sound of his mortality.


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 timepiece is accurate only once every five minutes. Blue lights play an optical illusion. They will whirl around the clock one second and then suddenly appear to freeze the next. Einstein said 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.


John Taylor says, “Clocks are boring. They just tell the time, and people treat them as boring objects. This clock actually interacts with you.” One reason he built this $1.5 million clock was to remind viewers not to take time for granted.

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