In a visionary endeavor, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s wealthiest retailer, is investing $42 million to create a clock that will endure for 10,000 years. Nestled inside a mountain in West Texas, the 10,000-Year Clock is designed to tick once a year, bong once a century, and cuckoo once a millennium, symbolizing long-term thinking and our responsibility to the future.

This mechanical marvel utilizes the Earth’s thermal cycles to power itself, featuring components such as a solar synchronizer, a pendulum, a chime generator, and various gears and dials. Towering at 500 feet, the clock spans the entire height of the mountain and is synchronized with the sun daily, tracking the year, century, and millennium. With a chime generator producing over 3.5 million unique bell chime sequences, the clock guarantees that each day’s soundscape is distinct.

The 10,000-Year Clock includes five room-sized anniversary chambers, each dedicated to a significant milestone—first, 10th, 100th, 1,000th, and 10,000th years. These chambers house time-related artifacts and messages for humanity’s future, with the first chamber containing a model of the solar system and the rest left for future generations to fill.

Inspired by Danny Hillis’ vision in 1995, Bezos aims to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. However, constructing a clock to last 10,000 years demands meticulous engineering, craftsmanship, and rigorous testing. It must withstand environmental challenges while remaining simple enough for maintenance by future generations yet complex enough to captivate and remain accurate.

Work on the clock is ongoing, with no set completion date, and it is currently inaccessible to the public due to its remote location in the Sierra Diablo range of West Texas. Critics argue that the project is a misallocation of funds and resources, urging attention to pressing issues. The debate continues about whether the clock will truly inspire long-term thinking or be relegated to obscurity by future generations.

Despite the controversy, the 10,000-Year Clock stands as a testament to human ingenuity and ambition, aiming to create a lasting legacy for humanity. Yet, questions linger about its value, impact, and endurance through time.

By Impact Lab