The 2013 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium and Special Exhibition of Spectacular Clocks, Watches, and Sundials
by The Pre-Eminent Master
Thomas Tompion (1639–1713)

California Institute of Technology Pasadena, California

7-9 November 2013

Dava Sobel

Author (U.S.A.)

The Bell and the Clock:
The Need for Public Time

  • Biography
  • Presentation
  • Further Information
  • Science writer Dava Sobel once spent a month in a laboratory, on assignment for The New York Times, without any means of telling time. Her experience in this chronophysiology experiment gave her a solid appreciation of the human plight: We are 25-hour creatures on a 24-hour planet. In 1993 she attended the Longitude Symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a reporter for Harvard Magazine. The article she wrote led to a book-length treatment, Longitude (1995), and later to The Illustrated Longitude (1998), co-authored with William J. H. Andrewes. Although the clockmakers pitted themselves against the astronomers in that story, Sobel has since devoted her time to several books that count astronomers as heroes, including Galileo’s Daughter (1999), The Planets (2005), and A More Perfect Heaven (2011).
    Dava Sobel offers a brief history of the sights and sounds used to promote an awareness of time for the common good, from sundials, through chimes, gongs, and sirens, to the electronic distribution of precise time signals and the future of the leap second.