U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock: Background information when reading The Perfectionists

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The Perfectionists

How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

by Simon Winchester

The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester X
The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester
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  • First Published:
    May 2018, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    May 7, 2019, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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About this Book

U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock

This article relates to The Perfectionists

U.S. Naval Observatory Master ClockYou have a job interview at 9:30. You plan to leave at 8:50. It's really only a 10-minute walk, but the path cuts through pleasant tree-lined neighborhoods and you know you'll take extra time meandering. Right now, it is 8:45 – or around 8:45 anyway. The DVR time atop the TV says 8:46. The microwave and oven times both say 8:47. And your watch, well, your watch, despite a new battery, inexplicably says 8:41. Your phone, by the way, says 8:45, but to paraphrase the classic band Chicago, does anybody really know what time it is anymore?

Actually, there is one person. At one point in The Perfectionists, Simon Winchester states that he's writing the chapter "to the steady beat of a Seth Thomas thirty-day kitchen clock." When Winchester needs to reset it about every month, he calls the time recording from the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock, which "operates much like grandfather clocks do: with pendulums. More precisely: a set of the most sophisticated pendulums ever built...

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