Similar to our #8 selection, this app uses a gradual brightness increase to slowly wake you out of your sleep, before laying down the hammer and buzzing to wake you up. If you’re waking up angry or abruptly (more on this in a moment), then this is the perfect trick to keep ahead. Just ensure your alarm clock also has a USB charging slot to keep your phone nearby. This works well if you position it differently than your gradual light alarm clock, as if you’re getting two sunrises instead of one.
The next development in accuracy occurred after 1656 with the invention of the pendulum clock. Galileo had the idea to use a swinging bob to regulate the motion of a time-telling device earlier in the 17th century. Christiaan Huygens, however, is usually credited as the inventor. He determined the mathematical formula that related pendulum length to time (about 99.4 cm or 39.1 inches for the one second movement) and had the first pendulum-driven clock made. The first model clock was built in 1657 in the Hague, but it was in England that the idea was taken up. The longcase clock (also known as the grandfather clock) was created to house the pendulum and works by the English clockmaker William Clement in 1670 or 1671. It was also at this time that clock cases began to be made of wood and clock faces to utilize enamel as well as hand-painted ceramics.
In mechanical clocks, the low Q of the balance wheel or pendulum oscillator made them very sensitive to the disturbing effect of the impulses of the escapement, so the escapement had a great effect on the accuracy of the clock, and many escapement designs were tried. The higher Q of resonators in electronic clocks makes them relatively insensitive to the disturbing effects of the drive power, so the driving oscillator circuit is a much less critical component.
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There’s a lot of science when it comes to sleeping, and there’s never a short supply of sleep-related tests going on. One of our favorite electronic brands here on Gear Hungry has made the most effective clock (in our humble opinion), and it’s the #8 pick: Philips Wake-Up HF3505. Slow light build mimics the sunrise, and gently pulls you out of a sleep-like trance before hitting you with some serious sound. Between price, effectiveness, and the fact that we didn’t have to chase it around the room (sorry Clocky, we’re not morning people), we absolutely loved this one.
A major stimulus to improving the accuracy and reliability of clocks was the importance of precise time-keeping for navigation. The position of a ship at sea could be determined with reasonable accuracy if a navigator could refer to a clock that lost or gained less than about 10 seconds per day. This clock could not contain a pendulum, which would be virtually useless on a rocking ship. In 1714, the British government offered large financial rewards to the value of 20,000 pounds, for anyone who could determine longitude accurately. John Harrison, who dedicated his life to improving the accuracy of his clocks, later received considerable sums under the Longitude Act.
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“I bought this light because my partner and I need to be up early for work, but our bedroom has very poor natural light. Within a week, I’ve already noticed a difference in my energy levels and mood. The sunrise simulation works perfectly; by the time the ‘alarm’ (peaceful bird noises) goes off, I’m already feeling naturally awake — not groggy or jolted out of my sleep. I feel much more rested, and my average resting heart rate reflects that. I also really love the sunset feature. I wasn’t expecting to get much use out of it, but I feel like it does a great job of helping me settle into bed at the end of the day.”