It looks like something one would expect to see at Hogwarts, Harry Potter's school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, this unusual clock, which cost $2 million USD, is very real and was recently unveiled with much fanfare at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge by World famous professor, Steven Hawking.
Aptly dubbed Chronopage, which means Time-Eater, the clock features a 4ft - wide gold face etched with 60 slits, each representing one second. A gold encrusted-monster, part grasshopper, part locust painstakingly moves the cog or slits around the perimeter, each of them marking a second. Every time the creature moves, blue lights flash across the clocks' surface until the full minute is done. Then the lights pause briefly to show the correct hour and minute, before the chugging begins again.
The clock was constructed by Dr. John Taylor, as a tribute to an English clockmaker, John Harrison who lived in the 18th Century. It was Harrison who invented the grasshopper escapement (left), the tiny device inside a clock that helps release the clock's gears. This was one of the greatest inventions of its times since until then sailors did not have an accurate way of measuring longitude (distance in degree, minutes and seconds east or west, from an imaginary line called Prime Meridian drawn vertically across the center of the Earth. Sailors instead had to rely on Astronomical observations, which were not always accurate.
Dr. Taylor said he wanted to turn the clock inside out, so that the grasshopper escapement could be seen 'eating' the seconds by all. He also wanted to demonstrate how important time is and how fast it slips away, second by second. But adding hands would have made this clock quite boring, so he went with the flashing lights.
The clock is constructed from a single sheet of stainless steel has a 24-carat gold facade and took eight engineers and craftsmen five years to complete. Fitted with an electric motor that doesn't have to be wound up for a quarter century, it uses minimal power - the equivalent of a 60-watt light bulb.
However, a word of caution to those running late - unlike the grasshopper escapement it was modeled after, this clock does not project accurate time every single second - it is only completely accurate every five minutes. But with all the flashing lights running over its face and the eerie sound it makes every hour on the hour, it definitely is way cooler than normal clocks!
Sources: DailyMail.co.uk, BBCNews.com.