Why is the clock not moving counterclockwise?
Why is the clock hand turning to the right?
This is because the clocks were invented in Europe and the most primitive of all clocks, the sundial, served as a model. In Europe, the sun moves to the right during the day: from east to south to west - the shadow of a sundial moves accordingly. The clocks have now been built in such a way that the hour hand rotates analogously in the same direction: clockwise.
First wheel clocks around 1300 in Italy
Actually, it wouldn't have mattered whether it was to the left or to the right. But when the first clocks came up, the direction had to be set consistently. The first clocks that raised this question, that is, the first wheel clocks with hands turning, were attached to church towers and town halls in Europe, more precisely in Italy. That was around 1300.
And as it is in technology: First you use what you know; and that was the sundial. Everyone knows the principle: a rod protrudes from a flat surface and casts a shadow; this shadow moves with the sun.
Is the hour hand of a clock based on the shadow of the sundial?
Nearly. The difference is that it is twice as fast; it makes two full rotations a day and shows the same time twice a day. Of course not the shadow of the sundial - it only takes up each position once a day. But the direction is the same. At least in the northern hemisphere. If the clock had been invented in the southern hemisphere, the hands would perhaps turn the other way around today, because from there one looks at the sun in the opposite direction; thus it moves to the left over the course of the day.
Boy scout trick: determine the compass direction with the wristwatch
Here's the trick: hold your watch with the hour hand pointing towards the sun. The hour hand and the 12 on the clock then form a certain angle. If you halve this angle, the angle roughly points south. But this only works in the northern hemisphere, because there the sun and pointer move in the same direction. In the southern hemisphere, this trick doesn't work that easily.
The text and audio of this post are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.
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