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)
  • jacksonh-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:14 p.m.

    It amuses me that every one was freaking out because the clock was off by six seconds. It is cool that by adding or removing pennies they can fine-tune the time.

  • amelianaa-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:16 p.m.

    Mechanics use pennies to adjust time because the copper does something with the core of the earth and causes the clock to go back to normal.

  • briannar-1-ols
    9/10/2015 - 01:20 p.m.

    The Big Ben is off by 6 seconds. The clock chimes every 15 min. and bongs every hour. People noticed that it was not accurate when BBC radio was broadcasting the bell at 6.

  • daizypd-ols
    9/10/2015 - 03:02 p.m.

    Mechanics used pennies to adjust time because it retunes the speed of the clock.

  • marcusi-mil
    9/18/2015 - 12:06 p.m.

    I think it is cool how they can fix sutch a big clock with just pennies. I wonder how many pennys they have used to fix it. I wonder what would happen if the clock got so far off that they couldnt fix it. I think its interesting how the it still echoed throught the city during the World War II. It's hard to believe that the clock is that old.

  • willm-mil
    9/23/2015 - 09:44 a.m.

    How do pennies make a difference on this clock?
    I don't understand your reference with the car on for many years...
    I like how you have to use useless things like pennies to fix a clock tower, making them not so useless!
    Why are these clock towers still standing if they have been broken so many times?
    I thought this article was cool, it really caught my interest!

  • gabbyt-mil
    9/29/2015 - 04:17 p.m.

    This is a very good articular. I know very little about how clocks work but I found it very interesting that they are using pennies to fine tune the clock. It is also interesting that they changed the name from Big Ben to Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne.

  • ahnad-orv
    9/29/2015 - 06:35 p.m.

    Wow! You would think something that big would need more than a penny to be fixed. I hadn't realized that the Big Ben had been around for 156 years and yet only need's something as small as a penny to be fixed.

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