Variations on a clock

The U.S. National Debt Clock shows several ‘clocks’ that tick off dollars at a constant rate. The answer to “what time is it?” could be given in dollars.

The Census Bureau has a population clock that estimates the present population for the U.S. or the world. The U.S. has a net gain in population of one person every 12 seconds. The answer to “what time is it?” could be given as a number of people.

The current price of a stock in a stock market ticker is a kind of clock. Or a trader might be interested in the time until the market closes, which would be a countdown clock. The countdown to launch a rocket or celebrate the new year are famous countdown clocks.

With GPS trackers anyone can have a distance ‘clock’ with them. “What time is it?” could be translated into “how far have you gone?” Metres, miles, or some other distance would answer the question. A sprint might last a certain ‘time’ measured by distance.

A clock with a second hand of 0.16 metre would sweep out one metre in one minute. Time could be converted to distance with this ratio. Ten o’clock would mean 600 metres swept out since beginning the day.

There is no need to measure ongoing change with only clocks of hours, minutes, and seconds. Many other units can be used.