IN the making of stars, time and season are very fundamental. When a farmer misses his planting season he has to wait for the next one. If you miss the planting time, you miss the harvest time. So, today we measure time in second, minutes, hours, days, months and years, but people do not always think of time in that way. The very first humans hunted for food or gathered wild roofs and berries they did not need to know the precise time or date. They awake at dawn and went to sleep when it gets dark. Time became important when people began to farm the land. They needed to prepare for the changing seasons, and they needed to know when to begin planting crops, to begin harvesting. People looked to the skies to help them calculate the time of year.
Early civilizations found two different ways to calculate time. The first was to watch the sun. The sun rises in a slightly different place during different seasons. By watching where the sun rose, people would know which day of the year it was. The second way was to watch the moon. The moon changes shape from full to crescent to new and back to full again over 29 and a half days. The moon cycle gave rise to months. It is possible that the lunar calendar was in use very early in mankind’s history as early as 30,000 BC.
The twelve lunar months only make 354 days while a solar year is 365 days long. Cultures that used a lunar calendar would often have to add extra days to their year to make sure that each of the seasons started at the same time every year. The ancient Egyptians were very interested in measuring time accurately and used several different calendars. They used a solar calendar, which had an extra day added every four years to make it more accurate. This fourth year was called a leap year. They also had a second calendar based on the river Nile’s annual flooding, a third based on the moon and a fourth based on the star Sirius.
The Egyptians found new ways to measure time. They invented a more accurate form of sundial, the slow clock. The shadow clock measured the length of a shadow, rather than its direction waho! How blessed these people are.
Let me take you away from this tale a while. Do you know that in 2,900BC – 3,000BC Africa was leading in Education. History confirmed mathematicians, Greek, Aristotle and architecture came into Egypt to receive their Education, it was confirmed that Africa was the centre of civilization because people like the Egyptians discovered the essence of time. There is no doubt you and I know that where ever education goes, there civilization goes.
Back to the details, the Egyptians also wanted to know the time during the night for religious purposes. A star clock was a table that listed the time of night when a certain star rose above the horizon. A person looked to see which star was just rising then checked the chart to see what the time was. A different chart was needed for each mouth.
The Egyptians divided the day into 24 hours. At first day light and darkness were divided into 12 hours each. Because the days get longer and shorter at different times of year, this meant the length of the hours varied as well. By about 1,200 BC the system was changed so that each hour was the same length.
Water clocks were inaccurate over long periods of time. If they were ever filled, the greater water pressure forced the water through the hole too quickly. Sand glasses, which had been in used since the third century BC, could only measure small lengths of time mechanical clocks were needed that could measure time more precisely.
In AD 723 a Buddhist monk in China named L’Hsing tried to solve this problem by using water to drive a water wheel. The water wheel was connected to a clock. His attempt failed because the iron wheel rusted. In 1090, Su Song, another Chinese inventor, built a more successful mechanical clock driven by water made of non-rusting bronze, the clock ran for nearly 100 years. The mechanism moved wooden puppets to bang drums and ring bells, marking the passing hours. It stood 10 metres tall and included a star clock. Clocks driven by water wheels were also used in Western Europe. Right up to medieval times, Christians monks used water wheels to power their mechanical clocks.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the accurate measurement of time became increasingly important. Monks, nuns, priests and other church officials were expected to followed a routing of prayers at specific times of day. At first water clocks and sundials were used to decide when it was time for those religious services, but greater accuracy was needed. This led to the development of church clocks.
At those days, peasant farmers working on farms were not interested in accurate clocks. They were, however, interested in the days of the week and date of the year. Some days were festival days when parties and merry making took place, and on certain days nearly towns held fairs.
The first really accurate mechanical clocks were invented in Europe in the fourteenth century. The oldest still existing is in Salisbury cathedral in England and was made in 1386. These clocks were driven by a heavy weight attached to toothed wheels called cogs. As the weight fell, it turned the cog to a set speed without the escapement constantly jamming the cog, the weight would immediately fall down. It is this jamming movement that makes clocks tick and tock!.
From the fifteenth century on, merchant ships sailed regularly between Europe, America and Asia. The ships navigators realised that something strange was happening to the time. The navigators rebilised that the sun was rising and setting at different times depending on when they were. As their ship sailed East the sun rose and set earlier, but when they sailed West the sun rose and set later. It soon became usual for ships to set any clocks on board to local time.
By about 1700 navigators had realised that they could measure their position very accurately by comparing the time difference between noon where they were and noon at home. British sailors compared local time to the time at Greenwich in England. But nobody had made and clock which would keep accurate time on the deck of a moving ship. In 1713 the British government offered a large cash prize to any one who could make a clock that would work on board a ship. 1773 one English inventor, John Harrison, finally developed a spring driven clock that kept time so accurately that navigators could find their position at sea even after a voyage lasting several months. Harrison called his clock a chronometer.
During the 1920s radio station began to broad cast entertainment and news programmes. One of the first services provided by radio station was the time signal. People were able to set right their watches and domestic clocks regularly. In turn this meant that people knows when to tune in to the radio for their favourite programmes, when to leave for work and when to expect visitors. Everyone had access to a reasonably accurate measure of the same time.
Modern society is obsessed with time. People need to arrive at work or at school exactly on time, and regulate their meal and breaks by watching the time. Even leisure activities such as football or concerts, start and finish on times.
An athlete’s performance is judged to a fraction of a second. The difference of a second can mean a greater deal to high-tech businesses which may win or lose large amount of money. Scientists working on experiments need to time things even more accurately. Some experiments need to be accurate to millionths of a second. To achieve such accuracy, scientists have turned to electronic technology. The most modern atomic clocks are accurate to one second every 1.6 million years.
I jump quickly into conclusion for a very long time. I thought time was a friend but unfortunately it’s not and I understand almost every celebrity on earth know were they are on time and they stock there like a pillar of salt.