Jeff Bezos just shared a new video of a giant $42 million mechanical clock designed to outlast the United States


  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has funded the construction of a clock buried in a mountain in Texas that's designed to keep time for 10,000 years.
  • The clock is a project of the Long Now Foundation.
  • Bezos shared a video of the clock's construction on Tuesday. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spends his fortune on a lot of interesting projects, such as The Washington Post, Blue Origin, and giant historical mansions.

But his most quixotic project may be the "10,000 year clock," in which he is funding the construction of a clock in the West Texas desert that's designed to keep time for millennia. 

7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon:

7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.


Bezos shared a new video of the construction of this clock on Tuesday. 


"Installation has begun — 500 ft tall, all mechanical, powered by day/night thermal cycles, synchronized at solar noon, a symbol for long-term thinking — the #10000YearClock is coming together thx to the genius of Danny Hillis, Zander Rose & the whole Clock team! Enjoy the video," Bezos tweeted


Bezos isn't the brain behind the clock, he's just a backer, to the tune of $42 million. The clock is a project of a San Francisco-based group called The Long Now foundation, founded by Danny Hillis, according to a Wired profile of the clock from 2012. 


The block is powered by a large weight hanging on a gear, and is designed out of durable materials so that it may continue keeping time for centuries. It's also buried 500 feet into a Texas mountain. 


Bezos is personally invested in the project because of his belief that humans need to plan for beyond our lifetimes. 


"We humans have become so technologically sophisticated that in certain ways we're dangerous to ourselves. It's going to be increasingly important over time for humanity to take a longer-term view of its future," he told The Wall Street Journal in 2012. 


“Over the lifetime of this clock, the United States won’t exist,” Bezos told Wired. “Whole civilizations will rise and fall. New systems of government will be invented. You can’t imagine the world — no one can — that we’re trying to get this clock to pass through.”


Bezos isn't the only notable person involved in the construction of the giant clock. Musician Brian Eno and notable tech writers Kevin Kelly and Stewart Brand are involved in the clock's construction as well. 


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