Posted - 01/16/2007 : 04:19:02
Expert blames 60-year malfunction on "shoddy quality control"
University of Chicago, Illinois, January 16, 2007 (NNC) -- A large clock has hung on the wall in the offices of the of the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947. It never worked before, but now it has at last been repaired.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists so-called "Doomsday Clock."
The clock had never really worked correctly, according to Executive Director, Dr. Sharon Morrison. "You must understand, it's not really a 'Doomsday Clock,' but just our office wall clock, and since the day it was installed in 1947, it's never worked."
Atomic Scientists try their hand
"Every so often," said Dr. Morrison, "one or another passing Atomic Scientist would notice the clock was off, and fiddle with its hands to try to set it right. But so far, none has figured out how to get it to stay right. Several complex theories have been proposed to explain its dysfunction, some involving exotic ninth-dimensional mathematics. There eventually were so many Atomic Scientists heatedly engaged in debating the 'Chronometer Problem,' that, when a secretarial temp finally suggested we call in clock experts, I jumped on the idea."
Over the decades, passing Atomic Scientists would futz with the clock.
Origin of the "Doomsday Clock" superstition
Beginning around the early 1950's, a legend developed over the years amongst the public that each random adjustment of the clock had some kind of deep, mystical meaning relating to the dangers of nuclear warfare. "Thus the 'Doomsday Clock' of popular superstition was born," said Morrison. "It soon began to have a life of its own, especially as some of our more prankish Atomic Scientists would sometimes hold unauthorized press conferences, and then give the hands a spin. This nonsense has been like a curse on our heads for decades, and has trivialized our work."
Professional horologists to the rescue!
The Rheiner Family Clockmasters arrived at precisely 9 AM, wheeling in several dollies loaded with supplies, portable workbenches, and toolboxes. Based in Maryland, the Rheiners have been designing, constructing, and repairing large and small clocks throughout the world for several generations. They are experts who have often been flown in to repair or maintain very large, historical clocks in famous clock-towers.
Peter Rheiner, paterfamilias and the firm's head, walked squarely up to the Atomic Scientists clock and glared at it as if it were an opponent in a imminent boxing match. Rheiner shook his head, muttering, "That thing's eight pips short of an hour."
Rheiner called over two assistants. "George, Mary, see if that thing will come off the wall easily, and if it will, put it into the vertical stand on Cart Two. That's it, careful and slow, slow, take steps together, lower it into the cradle, there, just so! Well done, kids!"
Problem found, solved
Rheiner stepped around behind the clock, then frowned with great disapproval at whatever he saw. "Well, there's the main problem. This clock lacks a clockwork mechanism. Talk about your shoddy quality control! These Einsteins have had an unfinished clock in their office for sixty years. Bet not a single one of them ever so much as looked behind it, or put his ear against the face to listen for a mechanism. Scientists! The least practical people on earth! Mary, please bring me our Number 3 Engine. It'll be in Drawer 5 on Dolly 4."
George and Peter Rheiner get to work.
By exactly 3 PM, the Rheiner Family Clockmasters had the clock -- no longer a mystic harbinger of doom, but now a precise messenger of the hours -- cleaned, assembled, lubricated, set, placed back on the wall, and running. "And we've thrown in some extras, gratis. Now it not only works like a clock, but looks like one, too."
Dr. Morrison: Now happy with the clock.
"That's so much better," agreed Dr. Morrison. "No more silly 'Doomsday' talk, no more wasted time endlessly theorizing about why it doesn't work. Now the world's Atomic Scientists can all get back to their proper line of work, designing bombs."
The clock: Repaired, refurbished, and (finally) running.
“Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Edited by - HalfMooner on 01/19/2007 07:41:52