Oil painting by Hugh Chevins, 1955, showing Huygens and Coster with their first pendulum clock. Christiaan Huygens (1629–1693), a Dutch physicist, designed the first clock controlled by the motion of a pendulum. Huygens based his clock on the observations made by the scientist Galileo (1564–1642), but improved the design and brought the pendulum clock to the world. (SSPL/Getty Images)

The Physics Of Why Timekeeping First Failed In The Americas

The world’s greatest clockmaker sent a clock to the new world, and everything went haywire. The reason why will shock you.

Ethan Siegel
Sep 28, 2018 · 7 min read

For millennia, humanity’s one-and-only reliable way to keep time was based on the Sun. Over the course of a year, the Sun, at any location on Earth, would…