History of the measurement of time

History of the measurement of time



It is interesting to know briefly the history of the mills and machines intended to mark the divisions of time until the advent of the mechanical clock in a nebulous date around the 1300. So we are going to refer to the work of j. M. Echeverría, which is clear and concise.
The first watch of the man was evidently the solar clock whose history is lost at the dawn of civilization: the Egyptian obelisks, our menhirs and crónlechs were not but sundials, and astronomical observatories

The sundials which consist of a rod embedded in the bottom of a semi-spherical excavation appear to be Assyrian inventions and already in Greece became very popular, later taking multiple forms. Until the 18th century this type of clocks is continued using the solar quadrant was still of enormous utility to verify and implement time mechanical clocks.

Another type of Sundial was the astrolabe, whose invention dates back to 150 BC by the Greek Hipparchos and whose subsequent developments led to the octant and already in the 18th century to the sextant that still today in day is used in navigation. But with the honest and must be our father Sun, has its disadvantages: and when is night?, and if it is cloudy? Medieval astronomers used a kind of astrolabe, called "nocturnal", but in time covered the problem persisted.




Several gadgets were used with greater or lesser fortune to solve this problem, although they were short periods of time, like sand clocks or watches in very primitive origin firearms which consist of measuring the time it takes to consume any combustible material such as oil or wax. But awareness was the clock of water or water clock of unknown origin already present in Egypt. The principle is very simple: Water drips slowly from a first container filling a second properly calibrated, whose brands could control the elapsed time. But this invention was evolving until acquiring its highest scientific expression in China where the Buddhist monk L'HSING invented - in the year 725 of our era-the first water clock with "escape" by way of water mill. The date is memorable, because the exhaust is the cornerstone of any clock hydraulic or mechanical, being responsible for regularizing the movement, as we will see later.
Let us focus now in the Gothic mechanical clock, the first authentic watch, protagonist of this exhibition. The mechanical clock is the machine par excellence, the pristine mechanism. This crude set of wheels and iron bars that composes a Gothic clock derived, not only our modern timers, but all our present and future mechanization. Nobody remembers that this primordial mechanism come from keys of firearms, all gadgets powered by springs and all the mills that made automation possible. All nuclei of "industrialization" of the Renaissance occur from a still Gothic ID: manufacturer of mechanical watches. 


The slow and regular functioning of the clock is imposed by a regulator that represents the standard of the time. This fundamental mechanism consists of the escape and the regulator and deserves a detailed description: the escape of palettes is the first which is known and despite later very sophisticated inventions persist in certain watches until the mid-19th century. Consists this exhaust of a shaft or "cock" with two pallet small adhering, forming a right angle between them.

These palettes Alternatively engaging in the teeth of a wheel called "Crown" or "wheel of meeting" and popularly "catalina" in our country, in memory of the instrument used for the ordeal of this Santa. The driving force is spinning the Catherine wheel but the alternate swing of pallets slows down his departure, making this small skip; This is turn syncopated which produces the characteristic "ticking" of the clock and based all exhaust system.

But this alone only not guarantees the slow and regular progress of the clock, it must be complemented by a regulator or controller of the time. Most primitives are constituted by a simple wheel motion called "rocker" or the "foliot", which is a slotted bar provided reglables weights at the ends. This system is rigidly attached to the tip of the cock of the escape of pallets and mission is to impose some frequency to the clock.

Of course, the time field of these watches has a single needle; the minute hand will make his appearance with the pendulum, in the 18th century.

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