Welcome to Gotham’s first annual holiday quiz. Be the first to answer all
questions correctly, and you could win the grand prize: the chance to be Nick
Huston’s date to the Post Works-Orbit Digital Christmas Party (beware of the
“You don’t have to run long errands through Paris to notice numerous clocks,
both public and private, that disagree – which one is the biggest liar? In fact
if even just one is lying one suspects the sincerity of them all.”
- Albert Favarger, engineer and watchmaker, addressing the International
Congress on Chronometry in Paris, 1900
Favarger was arguing that the world’s clocks should be coordinated by a vast
electrical network tied to a central, observatory linked master clock. The
following riddle would probably have driven him bonkers:
Suppose I have 4 Deneke GR-1's and an Atomic Clock accurate to within a few
- I set GR-1 #1 to 30 ND.
- I set GR-1 #2 to 30 DROP
- I set GR-1 #3 to 29.97 ND
- I set GR-1 #4 to 29.97 DROP
Each GR-1 is set to 00:00:00:00. When the Atomic Clock strikes midnight, it
instantaneously triggers the GR-1 boxes to begin counting forward.
The Question: When the Atomic Clock reaches 1:00am, what is the time code
displayed by each GR-1, and what is the corresponding elapsed time of that time
code? The winner and the answer will be announced in the next Gotham Gazette.
Deadline is December 14th at 5pm. Email your answer to
Incidentally, Favarger almost got his wish - but in the form of radio waves.
Henri Poincare and his team began transmitting the world’s first time-code
signal from atop the Eiffel Tower on May 23rd, 1910. Poincare’s version of
time-code was devastatingly simple: A single beep was transmitted every 1.01
seconds starting at midnight, thus allowing you to calculate “Paris time” by
counting the time between beeps.
The Eiffel Tower system was replaced by our modern day satellite based GPS
system, but not without controversy: When the GPS system was first deployed,
engineers were divided about whether Einstein’s Theory of Relativity applied to
the satellites. Unlike most satellites, GPS satellites travel in a 12 hour orbit
some 12,000 miles above the Earth. Einstein’s theories state that time would
move slower for the satellites by 7 milliseconds per day because of their speed
relative to our speed on the ground and faster by 45 milliseconds per day due to
the weaker gravitational field in space, for a total offset of 38 milliseconds
per day. A compromise was reached: Leave the “Einstein” correction in the
satellite, but don’t turn it on unless the satellite was sending a “flawed”
signal. Within two days after the satellite began transmitting, ground control
realized that the timing information was off by almost exactly the predicted
amount, resulting in erroneous positions of nearly six miles. Needless to say,
the “Einstein” correction was turned on.
Kind of makes our Drop Frame/Non-Drop Frame and .1% calculations seem like
child’s play, doesn’t it?