"The world is a total mess," observe the Calgary-based designers Igor Barbashin and Daria Volokhova . "It is full of chaotic events, random acquaintances and spontaneous events....The only thing that stabilizes this world is the fading from day to night, a work of time."
The conclusion they seem to draw from these observations is that most clocks are far too orderly, considering the chaos over which they hold dominion. Their "solution" is the Order in Chaos Clock, whose numbers exist as broken shards until the appropriate hour arrives. As a single hand sweeps around the circle--a minute hand--the numbers come into view, one at a time, one through twelve. Shards move into proper Arabic form, then disassemble themselves.
Order in Chaos Clocks are available for $2,000 apiece, with each one hand-fashioned. Elegant though the design may be, and as profound the philosophical statement, ponder whether you want a timepiece whose website includes a quiz to see if you can read it.
The author of an item about the clock at Gizmodo tentatively suggested that the following clock face showed 3:55:
At first, I saw 4:55, clear as day. But now I think Gizmodo had it right. And as for the online quiz, I was feeling smug, cruising along, until I came across this face:
Answer after the jump.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.