Big clock fixed with a few small pennies 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
Lexile

Don't set your watch by Big Ben.
 
Officials say the famous clock at Britain's Parliament - used by Londoners for decades to check the time - has recently been slow by as much as six seconds.
 
The 156-year-old clock chimes every 15 minutes. It emits deep bongs to mark the hour. Its inaccuracy was noticed by staff at BBC radio, which broadcasts the bongs live at 6 p.m.
 
Ian Westworth, one of Parliament's three clocksmiths, 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's 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, though they 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 to mark 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


COMMENTS (18)
  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/02/2015 - 08:10 p.m.

    This is not good because 6 seconds is a huge difference. It is not right and it can cause major differences in people's lives. I think this is understandable because since it was built, for 24 hours, 365 days, and 156 years it was bonging its bell.
    Why do mechanics use pennies to adjust the time?
    Answer: Mechanics use pennies to adjust the time because pennies fine-tune the pendulum's speed.

  • hannahv-2-bro
    9/03/2015 - 09:59 a.m.

    Pennies were invented for a reason. If they can fix a clock they can fix other things.

  • camdenc-ver
    9/04/2015 - 01:35 p.m.

    I picked up a couple nuggets of info in this article. I learned that pennies can fix anything, and that the clock tower was renamed Elizabeth's Tower. :D

  • allyb-ver
    9/09/2015 - 09:16 p.m.

    Its so cool that such a little object such as the penny can do something so big. I hope that the pennies can stay there and do its job for the next 156 years.

  • keatonm-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 12:47 p.m.

    I think that people in London should just get a watch. If the city had to make a giant clock so people can tell time it better work. And how didn't they notice anything during daylight savings.

  • mckaylas-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 12:55 p.m.

    The pennies are used to fine-tune the speed of a clock.

  • jasminpd-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 12:59 p.m.

    They add or remove the pennies to adjust the time to slow it or quicken it. So if you want it fixed send some pennies to the repair people. I wouldn't.

  • laneys-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    Mechanics use pennies to adjust the time because they fine-tune the sped to make it go faster or slower. Sometimes the clock would shut down due to weather and technical issues.

  • karlees-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    The mechanics use pennies to adjust the time, by placing them on the pendulum, so slow down or speed up the clock. They do this, by adding or removing pennies.

  • tycenb-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    They used pennies to fix the clock because they were so light they fine tuned the clock almost perfectly.

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