Jeff Bezos spent an estimated $42 million to build it inside a mountain that he owns, that name is a real contender. It was first proposed by Danny Hillis. It is a memento of sorts, a physical reminder of the brash, sunny-side futurism that defined the early internet boom.

This insane-sounding clock project, said to cost a whopping US$42 million.It’s actually the brainchild of inventor and scientist Danny Hillis, who came up with the concept decades ago, envisaging a clock that would truly stand the test of time ticking only once per year, with a ‘century hand’ moving once per century, and keeping perfect time for the next 10 millennia.

Bezos had been working with Hillis on the 10,000 year clock for some time, and the inventors – who call themselves The Long Now Foundation  said the final design and engineering of their time-travelling timepiece was almost complete.

Some have criticised Bezos for throwing his fortune away on a “vanity project”, others are more sympathetic to the symbolic value of what the clock could and should represent.

Drilling at the site began in 2009, but it’s only now that the 500-foot clock is being installed. As electronics can’t be used in a clock that is meant to last 10,000 years, it’s powered by thermal cycles; the changes in day and night temperatures keep it running. A spiral staircase circles its 12.5-foot diameter, and the clock will be synchronized at solar noon.

The clock, which is made entirely out of Marine grade 316 stainless steel, titanium and dry ceramic bearings, will only tick forward once a year, though its chime generator will create a different bell ringing sequence each day for 10,000 years. Once every millennium, a cuckoo will come out of its hole.

The clock’s materials are deliberately inexpensive, to discourage looting, and its location (on land Bezos owns) is quite remote; the nearest airport is two hours away and getting to the clock chamber requires hiking up 2,000 feet from the desert floor. It’s also designed so that most of its components can be repaired using nothing more than Bronze Age technology and tools. 

Forty-two million dollar could do a lot of good in the here and now. The value of a truly magnificent piece of engineering, executed at jaw-dropping scale, for little reason other than to inspire people. The pyramids probably seemed like a pretty big waste of time and energy back in the day. People still argue over what the hell Stonehenge is all about maybe that was the point.

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