In this Thursday, April 30, 2009 file photo, the Big Ben bell is seen inside St. Stephens tower at the Houses of Parliament, in central London. Officials on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 said that the famous clock at Britain's Parliament, used by people across Britain to check the time, has recently been slow by as much as six seconds. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Big clock fixed with a few small pennies
September 01, 2015
Don't set your watch by Big Ben.
Officials say the famous clock at Britain's Parliament has recently been slow by as much as six seconds. It has been used by Londoners for decades to check the time.
The 156-year-old clock chimes every 15 minutes. It emits deep bongs to mark the hour. Its error was noticed by staff at BBC radio. It broadcasts the bongs live at 6 p.m.
Ian Westworth is one of Parliament's three clocksmiths. He told the BBC the clock had become "a little temperamental" with age.
"Imagine running your car for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the last 156 years," he said.
Parliamentary officials said that mechanics had corrected the clock to within "normal parameters." That is within 2 seconds of the right time. They will continue to adjust it by placing pennies on the pendulum - or removing them. The pennies are used to fine-tune its speed.
Parliament's neo-Gothic clock tower is one of London's most recognizable landmarks. Its bell is one of London's characteristic sounds. The famous bongs echoed through the city without fail through World War II bombing raids. The bongs have been silenced a few times for repairs and by accident or the weather.
Although the clock tower is popularly known as Big Ben, the name actually refers to the 13-and-one-half-ton Great Bell inside. The tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012. The year marked Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do mechanics use pennies to adjust the time?
Write your answers in the comments section below