Time and Tide

BBC Devon have a delightful story about the sculptor, Marcus Vergette, on their section of the BBC website.

Marcus is sculpting a series of ‘tidal bells’ that will ring out at high tide around the country. There is no mention of springs or neaps in the article, so I’m presuming the bells are being placed low enough to ring at a neap tide (the narrowest range between high and low).

In the book I touch on the fact that humans have become very adept at approximating tidal behaviour, but it is still impossible to predict tidal times or heights with absolute precision. The tides are influenced by the orbits of the Moon about the Earth of course, but also very significantly by the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, which fewer people realise. These are the factors that are relatively easy to predict. The effects of wind, air pressure, temperature and the motion of the previous tide’s water are harder to predict and this chain continues almost all the way down down to the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Australia.

Technical challenges of predicting tides aside – these bells are not being designed to replace Caesium clocks in laboratories – it is a beautiful concept and I can’t wait to hear a bell ring out. Regular blog readers will know that I get an intense pleasure whenever creative works embrace the natural world and this is accentuated when there is a navigational connection. My thanks to Angela Williams for bringing my attention to the story and best of luck to Marcus in his work.