The interstellar clock

[Alexander Avtanski] has put together a nice clock to meet all your interstellar travel needs. Besides being another PIC based timer, this is a neat little project because it incorporates pretty much every feature you could think of when building a clock for our solar sytem.  For example, it has 16 independent timers and alarms, it can  simultaneously give the time for multiple planets, as well as keep track of other stellar events like the eye of Jupiter or the phases of the moon. To get this project off the ground [Alex] reverse engineered an old dial up modem to serve as an enclosure and power supply and then added in a rechargeable battery so that his  his interstellar clock wasn’t tied to a wall.

[via make]

Comments

  1. 1337 says:

    will it account for general relativity differences do to speed of the clock as I travel through space?

  2. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Planetary, not stellar.

  3. vonskippy says:

    Planets are big – wouldn’t they have numerous time zones just like the Earth has?

  4. MrTaco says:

    All you gotta do is pick a Greenwich for each and you’re set :P

    What I’m more wondering about is the conversion of hours/days/months/years for each planet.

  5. glagnar says:

    Reverse engineered? I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

  6. d01 says:

    i sure am curious about the time on uranus

  7. andrew says:

    I used to have a 1200 baud modem in a package like that.

  8. Bob says:

    but does it know the meaning of life?

  9. Noobius says:

    @Bob

    Everyone knows that. It’s 42.

  10. Amos says:

    You couldn’t even get that on a plane, much less a space-ship :P

    Most clocks posted here are pretty boring compared to this one. The only thing I don’t like too well is the display device (although it was made specifically to use one he had on hand, so that’s okay; plus it gets the job done).

    @glagnar: I don’t think /you/ know what it means. Either that or you didn’t read the actual write-up, because that’s clearly what he did.

  11. vtl says:

    Needs to address general relativity. To those who don’t know what this means, time dilation occurs when youre subjected to a different gravitational field. Its a very real thing that has been tested with caesium clocks and because satellites are subjected to a lower gravitational field than us on the surface, their clocks have to be compensated for the time dilation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_time_dilation

  12. Oren Beck says:

    Nice Hack!

    RE: Interstellar clock as a concept.

    Two major “reasons” get nailed spot on by 1337 and MrTaco.

    The best SF description was IIRC authored by F.M. Busby- Having a personal clock to keep track of your “Two Ages” on ships that approached C or even exceed it gets useful. General Relativity is still held to be local, last I heard.

    And we *JUST* got some exploration sat data back that will let us confirm if a few planets do have an atmosphere indicating “life” on them. Which may be amusing to carry a clock showing time for Planet P. As it’s being discussed about doing SETI@Home type work on that data. @home’s a worthy Hack.

  13. ferdie says:

    doctor who wants his clock back
    the TARDIS dont work now :D:D:D

  14. Kevmoney says:

    Looks like a BOMB!

  15. Aero says:

    Yeah, but does it account for time dilation?

  16. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    My last comment was directed at the description, and was in no way meant to detract from the build. Quite nifty…would keep me occupied for hours.

  17. Taylor Alexander says:

    Yeah, I agree that “Repurpose modem box” != “Reverse Engineer”. I see that he tapped into the power supply, but I guess I still don’t feel like that counts.

    And @Oren Beck – we got data indicating life? Or data indicating the *possibility* of life? There is an enormous distinction between the two. If we had data indicating life, I’m sure it would be *everywhere* in the news.

    Anyway, I’m just being grumpy. I like this hack though, its neat.

    Reminds me of a special on the Mars rovers I saw. When the Engineers are assigned to work on it, they have to work by Martian Days, which are something like 45 minutes different than earth, so they’re close, but always slowly shifting. That means that they have to go to sleep and get up 45 minutes later every day, which seriously conflicts with Earth schedules. One couple of engineers had kids in school, who obviously went on Earth time. So sometimes, as far as the parents were concerned, they had to pick up their kids from school at 2am Mars time. I can imagine that was draining.

    I also found out recently that Venus only rotates about its axis about once per year. But since its also orbiting the sun, there is one more “day” added per year. So Venus gets 1.9 days per year. Crazy.
    -Taylor

  18. ColinB says:

    Interesting read! The author/designer’s writing style is smart and entertaining.

    “That’s not reverse engineering”, I thought at first. But then I read the article and found he used the existing power supply and speaker circuits on the modem board, which surely did require some actual reverse engineering. Nice job.

    Favorite quote from the article:
    “If I try to take it with me on a trip they will evacuate the airport, for sure!”

  19. Oren Beck says:

    @ Taylor Alexander:

    I worded it by intent as “will let us confirm if a few planets do have an atmosphere indicating “life” on them”

    I am not anywhere near qualified to evaluate all the data and, the data’s going to be debated for decades whatever it initially “shows” about those planets. But- it will confirm an indication of “life” insofar as one can do so by multispectral etc means.

    Showing a dramatic spectral signature that either bespeaks a biology as causative- or not? That indeed will be an event with Reality Altering potential. Hacking our Worldview with hard science by viewing other worlds is something I’d almost abandoned hope of.

    No, it’s not a Plaque or “Record”on a probe, so far. I’ve wondered if Drake’s math gets skewed by transitions to Coax Cables and Fiber Optics instead of huge- or *any* “broadcast” technology deployments. All it takes is a few tech Hacks done differently. Where we’d have gone from Don Ameche inventing the Telephone, to FiOS with no Marconi in between- and we’d have had precious little deep space RF signature for this world.

  20. Durgledoggy says:

    @do1: -I’m sorry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.
    -Oh. What’s it called now?
    -Urectum.

    Futurama’s funniest joke.

  21. Rocketeer says:

    It will be nice testing this interstellar clock within a fusion-powered electrodynamic starship speeding up to near the speed of light. http://tinyurl.com/nuclear-fusion-starship

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