I think this is a thought-stimulating engineering exercise in terms of evalating durability, accuracy, etc. Two observations;
1) Alan Weis wrote a great book called "The Earth Without Us," describing what would happen to the artifacts of human civilization if we all suddenly disappeared. Geologic, biologic, and meterological forces wipe the slate in a (relatively) short time.
2) I don't want to discourage the project members, but the Stonehenge team is 4,000 years ahead of them in their real-time testing! :)
Larry, I know the B-52 well. My father worked on the design of the bomb bay before I was born (and that was a long time ago).
You bring up a good point, though, that is germain to the current defense budget discussion. There are other systems, such as the KC-135, that are also very old and still working. I am concerned, though, about the rerirement of a number of fourth generation fighters. These could be updated and used going into the future for a fraction of the cost of new planes. We should have the new planes, but we cannot afford the numbers needed. The older planes, with avionics upgrades, could be flying well into the future. This is not quite the same thing as making a device that, itself, should last 10,000 years.
I spent a long day last Febryary wandering around the Pima County Air and Space Museum (unclassified part of the famous Davis-Monthan "boneyard" Air Base) taking pictures. Some of the technology and its longevity are amazing.
Similarly, spent several hours on the USS Missouri in Hawaii in 2010. It also had about five generations of electronics between its construction in the 1940s and decommissioning in the late 1980s. Very easy to see where e.g., new radars were patched on. Sometimes the old system was left in place and the new one added alongside, suggesting that the old system had retained value.
You got that right about Stonehenge! Assuming it's not destroyed in an earthquake or other natural disaster, over that period of time the clock will have to accommodate several changes in the length of various time periods--the day, for example--as well as shifts in the declination of various planets and the Moon. I wonder if all that's being considered.
Making a clock to run for any great length of time without maintenance would be quite an achievement, given the multiple concerns of wear, dirt accumulation, and weathering. And if there is a chime system intended to sound daily, that means a lot more power will be needed. The challenge is that the weather will deliver an accumulation of dirt, and the dirt will get in the way of moving parts as it fills the motion clearances. Of course it is possible that the clock is being built in an exceptionally clean part of Texas, some area that has no dust or wind, but I sort of doubt that. It will be interesting to see if it even runs for one year. How about a more detailed report on the clock after it is finished, possibly including drawings or pictures describing how it captures energy, and how it moves.
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