David Rooney on Why It’s ‘About Time’ to Understand How Clocks Shaped Civilization

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In "About Time" David Rooney explores how our different methods of telling time have evolved over time and how the concept of time has shaped our civilizations. (iStock)

"For thousands of years, time has been harnessed, politicized and weaponized," writes technology historian and horologist David Rooney in his new book, "About Time." Rooney examines a dozen timekeepers from sundials and hourglasses to the atomic clocks on satellites that create GPS. In doing so, he traces time's role in shaping civilization, pushing against perceptions of clocks objectivity and analyzing the utilization of time in accumulating and maintaining power.  The son of a clockmaker and former curator of timekeeping at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, Rooney joins us to discuss the power of clocks.


David Rooney, author, "About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks." He is also a historian of technology and former curator of timekeeping at the Royal Observatory.