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A Clock That Measures Time With A Ruler

“You’re fired! That’s the last time you’ll be 3 millimeters late!”

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Despite the craftsmanship behind generations of timepieces, your classic 12-hour watch has a pretty arbitrary method to display the time. Time isn’t circular. It may have a repeating pattern, but 1 p.m. today is different to both us and the larger universe than 1 p.m. tomorrow.

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Lineær (PDF) is a concept by Norwegian University of Science and Technology student Audun Ask Blaker that measures out the time with a rolling measuring tape, rather than circling us round and round. “There is a strange connection between time and space, and I cannot seem to find a sufficient and easy conceptual model of what time REALLY is,” Blaker writes Co.Design. “I realized that many (including me) think of time in a linear way, just like on a measuring band.”

So Blaker shows us the time as many of us think of it, a momentary tick on a ruler without end. The bare-bones presentation is scientifically elegant: Each number is an hour. Each hash represents five minutes. (So there are 12 hashes per hour, much like there are 12 unique hours in a day.) As soon as you adopt the base 12 system, Lineær is entirely clear.

Though that might be Lineær’s fatal flaw: In a country that still refuses to go metric, it’s hard to imagine Americans measuring time in anything but inches and feet.

[Hat tip: trendsnow]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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