The world’s biggest clock is being built in Mecca. It’s still incomplete, but one of its faces has already started ticking. The clock tower will be the second tallest building in the world.
More than six times larger in diameter than London’s famed Big Ben, the clock faces, with the Arabic words “In the Name of Allah” in huge lettering underneath and will be lit with two million LED lights.
Some 21,000 white and green coloured lights, fitted at the top of the clock, will flash to as far as 30 kilometres (18.7 miles) to signal Islam’s mandatory five-times daily prayers.
The clock is apparently part of an effort to establish Mecca Time as a rival to Greenwich Mean Time. What this means in practice, I’m not sure. Do they want to move the international date line? Do they just want to change UTC so that it refers to the time in Mecca? Or do they actually want the reference time for the world to be in Mecca? If it’s the last case, then they need to build not the biggest clock but the most precise. But even if they do that, the rest of the world will still prefer England time to be UTC+0, just so we don’t have to rewrite a bunch of software.
Naturally, for proponents of Mecca Time, it’s not just national or religious pride that makes them think they’re so important. They also have “science” to back them up.
A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim “qibla” – the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.
This claim that the holy city is a “zero magnetism zone” has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.
“That’s why if someone travels to Mecca or lives there, he lives longer, is healthier and is less affected by the earth’s gravity,” he said. “You get charged with energy.”
Wow. That is a hell of a claim. Zero magnetism zone? I guess that means that compasses don’t work in Mecca? Probably not true.
Kindly, Steve Schimmrich the Hudson Valley Geologist has tried to give this crackpottery the benefit of the doubt (and taught me something about magnetic north):
What they may be talking about, however, is the zero line of magnetic declination. Turns out the north magnetic pole is not in the same place as the north geographic pole (which is fixed and located at the Earth’s rotational axis).
Look at the diagram above which shows lines of magnetic declination for the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s very complex, monitored and studied by geophysicists, and changes slightly year-to-year. Note the zero line that passes through the middle of the U.S. This means that if I go to the middle of Minnesota, for example, my compass (which aligns to magnetic north) will point to true north (0° declination from north).
Is Mecca on a 0° declination line? Not exactly. It’s close, as you can see on the diagram above, but not right on it (like some sites in the North and South America are). NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center calculates a magnetic declination of 3° E for Mecca.
Or maybe Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed is just sort of nuts. Dr. Sanity excerpts an interview that makes a strong case. It is also hilarious.
Dr. ‘Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: The centrality [of Mecca] has been proven scientifically. How? When they traveled to outer space and took pictures of the earth, they saw that it is a dark, hanging sphere. The man said, “Earth is a dark hanging sphere – who hung it?”
Interviewer: Who said that?
Dr. ‘Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: [Neil] Armstrong. Armstrong was basically trying to say: Allah is the one who hung it. They discovered that Earth emits radiation, and they wrote about this on the web. They left the item there for 21 days, and then they made it disappear.
Interviewer: Why did they make it disappear?
Dr. ‘Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: There was intent there…
Interviewer: So it may be said that this suppression of information was significant.
Dr. ‘Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: It was very significant, since…the Ka’ba [in Mecca]… They said it emits radiation. This radiation is short-wave.
When they discovered this radiation, they started to zoom in, and they found that it emanates from Mecca – and, to be precise, from the Ka’ba.
Interviewer: My God!!
Via the Corner.