Thursday, November 1, 2007

The 1000 Year Forest Clock - The TiWalkMe Escapement

TiWalkMe is a 1000 year clock in the guise of a forest, with annual tree plantings setting the pace of time, and their maturing the clockwork mechanism. TiWalkMe's purpose is to make deep time visible, and thus to help individuals and society focus on those hard, long term problems which determine our success as a species.

Over the next millennia, the TiWalkMe Escapement will constantly move and bow to the winds of time. Sections age, others regrow, and above all, change is embraced. Details must be left to future generations, but this generation will locate the site, etch the overall plan of paths and trees, and set the clock into motion. Never the less, throughout time three principles should guide its evolution:
  • Principle 1: The slow march of trees across the Escapement must always be visible and unobstructed.

  • Principle 2: The Escapement must adapt to future knowledge and needs, yet remain balanced with the past.
  • Principle 3: TiWalkMe's mission is to bring perspective and insight to its visitors.

Bell & Siphon

Rather than a static network of ponds and streams, the Escapement's pools empty periodically into the stream below. Although pumps or other massive infrastructure could be used to force water across each dam, TiWalkMe will adapt a passive, gravity-powered "bell and siphon" to echo nature's grand cycle. Yet the flow will be as dramatic and as willful as nature's own.

The most elegant and efficient pump in the world is a siphon. Containing no moving parts, requiring no forces other than gravity and surface tension for operation, siphons are at work everyday emptying gas tanks, filtering aquariums, and moving drinking water from reservoir to town. More about the Bell & Siphon system-->Link

Overhead view
More on the design-->Link

Conceptualized locations include larger rural or even smaller scale urban settings. The search continues for funding, volunteers, and site selection.

The interesting man behind the TiWalkMe is inventor, physicist, entrepreneur, designer, former Bell Labs chief scientist, and now venture capitalist Greg Blonder of Genuine Ideas. A mad genius of over 70 patents and thousands of other genuine ideas.

After exchanging some emails with Greg, he summed it up nicely for me...

"My main point is captured by Yogi Berra, who famously noted "you can see a lot just by looking". Imagine walking though the forest in the first year, then the second and third. And tenth with your children. Slow down- think- visualize the paths and leaves in your mind.... What will have changed? What risks are a forest like this likely to face from the ravages of nature, visitors, insects? How can one plan and organize to keep the forest safe and a legacy for future generations? Understand the forest, and you will exercise the very same skills we need to develop to solve challenges never before faced in all of human history.

Realistically, as I've searched for an appropriate site and sponsor, they either specify a conventional park, or a conventional business district with mixed use facilities and homes. Short term thinking, of course. A city which embraced the TiWalkMe forest will become a magnet for associated organizations, and then businesses and jobs. Plus, unlike a woollen mill or high tech park, its base will not migrate away. But few visionaries are in power, I'm afraid."

TiWalkMe Website-->Link

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