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How do clocks work?


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Answered 2010-08-29 23:41:07

A clock is a device to measure the passing of time . Early clocks used water dripping into a container with measurements inscribed on the sides . Later when clockwork was invented , a weight on a string or chain was used to pull a system of gears round , with hands or pointers connected to the relevant gears to indicate against a circular scale(face) . Later still a thin steel strip was wound tightly into a coil to replace the weight on a string , allowing more compact clocks . In order to control the speed the gears turned at , an escapement , an oscillating wheel and arm arrangement............or a pendulum , the swing of which is decided by its length and the mass of weight at the free end...............were used .

Since the discovery of electricity , there were numerous new ways to devise clocks . For battery clocks a transistor oscillator generates a pulse at regular intervals which can be used to step the hands on . For mains power , the public grid has a closely controlled frequency which can been used as a time reference...........

Early digital clocks had the numbers marked on gear driven drums which rotated in the same manner as the hands on the original clocks , or cards or tabs were flipped over to change the numbers . Most digital clocks today use a seven segment display . These became popular with the advent of integrated circuits . They are so-called because with just seven bars in the shape of a figure eight , it is possible to generate any number from zero to nine by turning on or off the correct bars . Special integrated circuits(silicon chips) were produced to match these displays .

Some clocks today use liquid crystal displays , the numerals are made up of tiny tiny dots if you look close , complex electronics drive the display , but they still all need a time reference to control them . The most accurate clocks use an atomic source of which there are several in the world . You can make your computer syncronize itself with one of these over the internet . Radio signals are also transmitted in some countries to allow a good time reference ......

Some clocks are battery operated, while older clocks have gears inside.

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