by James Merritt

Watch the Clock
James Merritt
Psalm 118:24


1. "Watch the clock!" It is a very familiar refrain, especially in sports. In football, you had better watch the clock or your may not get the chance to kick that last minute field goal. In basketball, you had better watch the clock or you may not get the chance to take that last minute shot. In life you had better watch the clock or you may miss your flight or you may not make that crucial job interview.

2. Whether it is a wrist watch or a clock, it records and reveals something that has never been more important, more valuable and so precisely measured as it is today and I am talking about time.

3. Think about this. In 1790, less than 10% of Americans had a clock of any kind in their homes and the vast majority of those had no minute hand. Alarm clocks and wrist watches were unknown until the end of the 19th century.

4. Today, we have computers, communication satellites, global positioning receivers and telephone switching systems that all depend upon a precise measure of time even to operate.

5. On my desk, in my study at home, is a unique clock. It is attuned to an atomic clock that calibrates the exact time to one billionth of a second for the United States of America. In Northwest Washington, on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in a concrete building is the nerve center of the U.S. Directorate Of Time.

6. In that building sit 28 atomic clocks, 4 of them holding atoms of hydrogen and the rest cesium. When hit by lasers or microwaves, the atoms begin to dance with a vibration that is monitored by computers. Once each second, the results are fed into America's master clock. The measurements from this and similar clocks around the world are sent to the International Bureau Of Weights and Measures, outside Paris, and is accurate to one-billionth of a second.

7. When you think about it, it is pretty amazing that science and society values time ...

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