Long Now digs a big hole.

"We just completed the 12 -- foot diameter, 500 foot deep vertical shaft for the 10,000 Year Clock."

We used a mining technique called raise boring. Take a look at the video -- it's an interesting operation. Instead of drilling down from the top, you pull a large diameter reamer up to the surface from the bottom using a smaller diameter pilot hole -- more efficient than a top-down drill because the rubble isn't fighting gravity. It rains down beneath the advancing bore and gets hauled out a horizontal shaft at the bottom. Our next major step will be cutting the spiral stairway using a robotic stone cutting saw. In parallel, we're also manufacturing and testing the Clock components.

For the impatient, awesome parts are at 0:23, 1:20, 2:05, and 3:15 (that last of which reminds me of the DNA Lounge "See Snake" video.)


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14 Responses:

  1. Ben Brockert says:

    No embedding allowed on your website, as sharing videos is bad.

    I've been thinking of going looking for his clock site on one of my drives to New Mexico. I get the impression it's not far from his rocket test area.

  2. Steve Allen says:

    The mathematical model for the clockwork mechanism is described in http://futureofutc.org/preprints/10_AAS_11-665_Hillis.pdf

  3. Lun Esex says:

    The rubble wasn't fighting gravity, but the big drill head was. I guess since they already had alternate access to the space at the bottom to attach the really big drill head and haul out the rubble it came out as a net win.

    • Max says:

      They probably removed at least 500,000 kilograms of material. Probably more like 2 million kg.

      That's a lot of rock to haul out of a hole.

      • Max says:

        Sorry, I screwed up the math. More like between 2 million and 5 million kg.

        (assuming that the density of the material was something like 1500 to 3500 kg/m^3)

  4. Ritcey says:

    All I can think about is the staggering amounts of torque that must be on that 500 foot drill shaft, turning that 12 foot bore.

  5. dinatural says:

    Is it me or will this be easily broken by some earthquake ?

    • yukbon says:

      it's you.

      The entire mechanism will be installed in an underground facility in west Texas.

      this is not an area known for it's earthquakes.

    • Chad says:

      Distance from 10,000 year clock to...

      Mexico CIty: 775 miles
      St. Louis (New Madrid Fault): 850 miles
      LA (San Andreas Fault): 925 miles
      Yellowstone Park: 1000 miles

      There was a 4.0 earthquake in Pharr, Tx (250 miles) in September, but that's the largest earthquake in Texas in recent memory, and it was the result of fracking.

      I'm no geologist, but the 10,000 year liklihood of a 6.5+ earthquake in the area is very low.

    • relaxing says:

      No you're right, there's no way they would have considered that before they dug the giant fucking hole in the ground.

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