I had read about this unusual clock years ago; the unusual mathematics connection was an additional “plus”.
I leave the crowds at Gedächtniskirche and Breitscheidplatz and head on over to the SixT car rental outlet on Budapester Strasse. What’s standing in front is most certainly a curiosity, even as passers-by look at me curiously.
The Berlin Clock is known in German as “Berliner Uhr”. The alternate name is “set theory clock” or “Mengenlehreuhr”, a German compound word consisting of “Menge” for quantities (sets), “Lehre” for theory, and “Uhr” for clock. The Guinness Book of Records claimed “the Berlin Clock was the first clock in the world operating according to the principles of set theory1“.
Created by inventor Dieter Binninger, the clock first stood at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Uhlandstrasse in West Berlin from 1975 to 1995. Local business arrangements were made with Binninger’s widow for a long-term loan including maintenance costs, and the clock was moved in 1996 to its present location at the Europa-Center.
Here is how one reads the Berlin Clock:
- Top circle: light flashes every 2 seconds; ‘on’ 1-second, ‘off’ 1-second
- 1st row: hour of day in 5-hour increments, up to 20
- 2nd row: hour of day in 1-hour increments, up to 4
- 3rd row: minutes in 5-minute increments, up to 55
- 4th row: minutes in 1-minute increments, up to 4
Time shown in the above featured image is 1310 hours or 110pm, which breaks down as (2 x 5) + (3 x 1) hours and (2 x 5) + (0 x 1) minutes.