Try and imagine a world where there’s no such thing as 10:30 a.m. or 3:15 o eight minutes past 5:00, sounds strange doesn’t it but actually for most of human existence this was how we lived this was the closest thing.

Balance spring

We had to a clock and to be honest it was all we needed we woke up when the Sun came up eight when we were hungry and slept when the Sun went down, now I have two stories to tell you about what happened next, and they both start in 1657, a pretty good year all things considered you could buy coffee for the first time in Paris, and chocolate for the first time in London hurrah and it was also the year this thing was invented, that coil in the middle that’s called a balanced spring and when you give it a push well it doesn’t stop moving attach a few cogs and a ruler to it and you’ve got yep you guessed it we’ve been using sundials water clocks and sand to keep time for thousands and years of course but now now time was mechanical, suddenly we had a reliable way of measuring something that had always been ephemeral, and people started to wonder if time can be measured what else could be we started thinking like modern scientists measuring and observing in the next 50 years, we got the first calculator, the first cuckoo clock, the first piano reflected telescope, even the first bottle of champagne, and when clocks got smaller we could put them on ships where they helped us navigate our position on the Seas an age of discovery, and trade began finally the universe itself became something that could be studied measured and eventually explore one and lived on God.

Technology changes the world

It’s amazing that the science that makes so many modern things from your iPhone to the internet possible can all be traced back to this little spring, but wait there’s also another side to this story because although technology changes the world there’s something else it changes to something that’s so subtle, we hardly ever notice it to see what that is we need to go back to 1657 and give this another push, you see the way it moves oscillating back and forth time isn’t this fluid thing anymore it’s been divided into a series of uniform equally spaced moments, and I know this may not seem like it’s a big deal but it does something profound because we started to wonder if time could be broken up into small uniform pieces what else could be.

We’ve built an amazing world that runs like clockwork meaning that these days so do we, now this isn’t a bad thing we’ve come a long way but technology doesn’t just change the world it changes how we perceive it, often in fundamental ways.

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