Electric clocks that are powered from the AC supply often use synchronous motors. The supply current alternates with a frequency of 50 hertz in many countries, and 60 hertz in others. The rotor of the motor rotates at a speed that is related to the alternation frequency. Appropriate gearing converts this rotation speed to the correct ones for the hands of the analog clock. The development of electronics in the 20th century led to clocks with no clockwork parts at all. Time in these cases is measured in several ways, such as by the alternation of the AC supply, vibration of a tuning fork, the behaviour of quartz crystals, or the quantum vibrations of atoms. Electronic circuits divide these high-frequency oscillations to slower ones that drive the time display. Even mechanical clocks have since come to be largely powered by batteries, removing the need for winding.
In Chinese culture, giving a clock (送鍾/送钟, sòng zhōng) is often taboo, especially to the elderly as the term for this act is a homophone with the term for the act of attending another's funeral (送終/送终, sòngzhōng). A UK government official Susan Kramer gave a watch to Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je unaware of such a taboo which resulted in some professional embarrassment and a pursuant apology.
Early clock dials did not indicate minutes and seconds. A clock with a dial indicating minutes was illustrated in a 1475 manuscript by Paulus Almanus, and some 15th-century clocks in Germany indicated minutes and seconds. An early record of a seconds hand on a clock dates back to about 1560 on a clock now in the Fremersdorf collection.:417–418
Wallingford's clock had a large astrolabe-type dial, showing the sun, the moon's age, phase, and node, a star map, and possibly the planets. In addition, it had a wheel of fortune and an indicator of the state of the tide at London Bridge. Bells rang every hour, the number of strokes indicating the time. Dondi's clock was a seven-sided construction, 1 metre high, with dials showing the time of day, including minutes, the motions of all the known planets, an automatic calendar of fixed and movable feasts, and an eclipse prediction hand rotating once every 18 years. It is not known how accurate or reliable these clocks would have been. They were probably adjusted manually every day to compensate for errors caused by wear and imprecise manufacture. Water clocks are sometimes still used today, and can be examined in places such as ancient castles and museums. The Salisbury Cathedral clock, built in 1386, is considered to be the world's oldest surviving mechanical clock that strikes the hours.
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With the application of the synchronous electric motor to clocks in 1918, domestic electric clocks became popular. A synchronous electric motor runs in step with the frequency of the electric power source, which in most countries alternates at 60 hertz (cycles per second). The electric motor is coupled to a reduction gearing that drives the clock hands at the correct rate.
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