Ever wondered why do clocks run the way the do? Today in the age of digital watches and smartphones we might not ponder about this point that much, but analogue clocks beg the question of why do their hands turn the way they do, i.e. from left to right?
The answer is related to the fact that for some odd reason, much of human civilisation evolved and progressed in the Northern Hemisphere. If you look directly at the North Pole from space, the Earth would appear to be spinning counterclockwise. This means that on Earth, anything placed in the Northern hemisphere parallel to Earth’s axis will cast a shadow that rotates in a clockwise direction.
So when Egyptians and Babylonians were fashioning their first shadow clocks around 3,500 BC, they saw the shadows turn clockwise. Similarly, when sundials began to appear around 1,500 BC, it told time by casting a shadow with its gnomon around a circular plate. And since that shadow moved from north to east to south to west as the sun travelled, the trend was taken up with the mechanical clocks as well in the 14th century Europe.
And yes, this means that if someone would have created a sundial or a mechanical clock first in the Southern hemisphere, let’s say in Australia, then the meaning of the terms clockwise and anti-clockwise would have been different today.
So now when you use your wrist or wall clock, you’ll know that it signifies something very historic and fascinating, and is a reminiscence of the cultural heritage of the ancient civilisations.
Do you have more information on why clocks tick tock they way they do? Comment below!