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London, England, United Kingdom

Big Ben is the name often attributed to the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament.

research about big ben

Lily Johnson

19 mar 2021.

research about big ben

About Big Ben

Big Ben is one of the United Kingdom’s most iconic landmarks, and has for almost two centuries towered over Westminster’s busy streets to the awe of Londoners and tourists alike.

Big Ben history

Though the name ‘Big Ben’ is often attributed to the entire clock tower attached to the Houses of Parliament , it is actually the nickname of its largest bell – also known as the Great Bell. The tower itself is named Elizabeth Tower and, along with its collection of bells and four vast clock faces, was constructed between 1843 and 1859 in the neo-Gothic style.

When it was unveiled, it was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world, and on each of its sides is represented one of the four nations of the United Kingdom – a rose for England, thistle for Scotland, shamrock for Northern Ireland, and leek for Wales.

While it is unclear exactly where the name Big Ben originated, it is thought to have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the man in charge of commissioning the structure. Another popular, although less likely, theory is that it was named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the mid-19th century who also went by the nickname.

Big Ben today

Today Big Ben is one of the most recognisable symbols of London in the world, with the catchy nickname now encompassing the clock tower as a whole. Thousands of visitors flock to Westminster to view its stunning design and vast proportions, widely considered a marvel of Victorian architecture.

Tours inside the tower itself are available to citizens of the UK, who are required to contact their local MP in order to get tickets and must arrive on a scheduled day. Inside the tower, 334 stone steps may be climbed to the top from which stunning views of the city can be observed, as well as the famous bell itself!

For foreign visitors, the adjoining Houses of Parliament may be explored, which provide a fascinating look into the heart of Britain’s government, while the surrounding area also features of host of London’s most interesting sites – Westminster Abbey , Parliament Square, the Cenotaph and 10 Downing Street to name a few.

Getting to Big Ben

Big Ben is located in Westminster in Central London. The nearest Underground station is Westminster, a 4-minute walk away, while a number of buses stop at Parliament Square on Victoria Street, directly opposite. The nearest train station is Waterloo, a 12-minute walk away.

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The sound of Big Ben and the image of its tower are synonymous with London.

The BBC has recorded how this iconic landmark has played its part in our history, from being a symbol of defiance amid the destruction of the Blitz to providing the chimes that ushered in a new millennium.

BBC presenters have also taken us with them as they get up close to Big Ben and reveal the secrets of the mechanisms that have powered the clock since 1859, keeping it working to near perfection.

Scrapbook for 1924

Scrapbook for 1924

How the Big Ben chimes were first recorded for broadcast by the BBC.

These Foolish Things

These Foolish Things

Nancy Mitford and others comment on the sound of Big Ben.

Blue Peter - The Story of Big Ben

Blue Peter - The Story of Big Ben

Valerie Singleton outlines the history of the world famous clock.

The World at One

The World at One

'The World at One' reports on the maintenance of Big Ben.

News - Big Ben Repaired

News - Big Ben Repaired

Repairs to the great Westminster clock are completed.

Cleaning Big Ben, 1980

Cleaning Big Ben, 1980

Daring Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan scales the tower to give the clock face a good polish

The Great Palace: The Story of Parliament - Victorian Masterpiece

The Great Palace: The Story of Parliament - Victorian Masterpiece

A view inside Britain's world famous Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben's chimes, 1986

Big Ben's chimes, 1986

Frosty weather has a chilling effect on the famous bell

Big Ben under repair, 1987

Big Ben under repair, 1987

Breakfast Time reports that Big Ben has lost its bong

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This Day In History : May 31

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Big Ben rings out over London for the first time

The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high Elizabeth Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on May 31, 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster—the headquarters of the British Parliament—in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

The name “Big Ben” originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, Elizabeth Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock’s huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.

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research about big ben

You've Been Referring to Big Ben Wrong (and Other Things You Need to Know Before Visiting)

T he most famous clock tower in the world and one of the most recognizable landmarks in London alongside Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral , Big Ben is a must-see for first-timers in the English capital. But while it looks like a simple clock tower , Big Ben has a long and fascinating history, and some features, that you probably never knew about.

Where is Big Ben located?

How to get to big ben, when was big ben built and why, why is big ben called big ben, how tall is big ben, when does big ben chime, big ben in numbers, is big ben under construction, can you go inside big ben, where to stay in london to be near big ben.

Big Ben from Westminster Bridge

Photo: Alexey Fedorenko /Shutterstock

Big Ben is located on the north bank of the river Thames, in the borough of Westminster in London. The borough of Westminster is also home to Buckingham Palace (only a 15-minute walk from the clock tower) and Westminster Abbey (a four-minute walk from the clock tower). Westminster is one of 32 boroughs that make up London.

More specifically, Big Ben is on the northern end of the Palace of Westminster, AKA The Houses of Parliament.

The easiest way to get to Big Ben is by taking the subway (AKA “the tube”). The Circle line, the District line, and the Jubilee line (depicted in yellow, green, and grey respectively on subway maps ) will get you straight to the station Westminster. From the station, it is only a one-minute walk to the clock tower.

Big Ben clock in London

Photo: Pajor Pawel /Shutterstock

After the Palace of Westminster (AKA The Houses of Parliament) burnt down almost entirely in 1834, plans to build a new palace got underway quickly. Architect Charles Barry was selected to design the new building and his drawings included a clock tower. The construction of the new palace started in 1840 and the construction of the clock tower began three year later.

Designing and building a clock tower is one thing, but designing and constructing the most accurate clock in the world is another. In 1846 a competition for the best clock design was opened and the plans of Edmund Beckett Denison were chosen. In 1852, the year Queen Victoria inaugurated the new palace, Edward John Dent was hired to construct the clock, which his son, Frederick Dent, completed in 1854. The clock ticked for the first time inside the tower in 1859. At the time, the clock was said to be the most accurate one in the world.

While Big Ben is relatively recent, it is believed, that there has been a clock tower on the site since the late 13th century.

Big Ben is not the name of the clock tower, it is the name of the 15.1-ton bell inside the tower that chimes every hour. It is believed, but remains unproven, that Sir Benjamin Hall, who was involved in the construction of the new palace and the clock tower, inspired the nickname.

Since Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the official name of the clock tower is the Elizabeth Tower. Prior to 2012, the name of the tower was known as St. Stephen’s Tower.

Big Ben, or as it is officially known, the Elizabeth Tower, is 315-foot tall.

The Great Bell, AKA Big Ben, chimes every hour. Four quarter bells chime every 15 minutes.

  • The clock tower is the same height as 21 London buses piled on top of each other, i.e. 315 feet.
  • There are 292 steps to get to the dial and 334 steps to get to the belfry where the Great Bell is kept.
  • The clock has four dials, each with a 23-foot diameter. At night, the four dials are illuminated.
  • From 1939 to 1945, the four dials of the clock were kept dark to comply with the Blackout regulations imposed during the war.
  • The hands on the clocks are incredibly long and heavy. The minute hands are 13.7-foot long and weigh over 220 pounds. The hour hands are 8.8-foot long and weigh over 661 pounds.

Big Ben covered in Scaffolding

Photo: ako photography /Shutterstock

Is 2017, extensive conservation work started on the clock tower and the clock itself. For almost five years, until May 2022, the tower and the clock dials were covered in scaffolding. During the work, the chiming of the bells stopped; they resumed in November 2022. At time of writing, conservation work is ongoing inside the clock tower.

Those who wish to go inside Big Ben can do so on a 90-minute guided tour that will take them all the way to the belfry, where the bells of the clock tower are located. The guided tour requires some level of physical fitness since there are 334 steps to climb up a narrow spiral staircase to get to the top. Tours of Big Ben fill very fast (often weeks in advance), so make sure to book your ticket online as early as possible. Tickets for the tour cost $31.85 (£25) for adults and $12.75 (£10) for children aged 11 to 17. Children under the age of 11 cannot take part in the tour.

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend in London! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

London Marriott Hotel County Hall

research about big ben

Only a five-minute walk across the river Thames via Westminster Bridge to reach Big Ben, the London Marriott Hotel County Hall is a historic five-star property that has views on some of the most iconic London landmarks. Request a room with a river view to see the best of London’s skyline, including the London Eye. Being a five-star property, the London Marriott Hotel County Hall has a large indoor pool, a gym with fitness classes and personal trainers, and a restaurant, Gillrays Steakhouse & Bar, overlooking the Thames.

Great Scotland Yard Hotel

research about big ben

This five-star hotel, just a nine-minute walk to Big Ben, is housed in a 1820s building. Inside, the decor is a mix of traditional and modern features, with heavily decorated and very atmospheric common areas contrasting with elegant, subdued rooms and suites. Being a luxury property, the Great Scotland Yard Hotel has all the bells and whistles you’d expect: a Michelin-starred chef, a hidden whisky bar, an afternoon tea lounge, and a fitness centre.

Conrad London St James

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London x London

Posted on 31st August 2023 Categories London History

By: Author Alastair Reid Schanche

25 Fascinating Facts About Big Ben We’ll Bet You Never Knew

25 Fascinating Facts About Big Ben We’ll Bet You Never Knew

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How many Big Ben facts do you know? 

If you’re any kind of Anglophile, or a Londoner yourself, you’ll know what the Houses of Parliament’s clock tower looks like, and you will probably have heard it chime too. What else is there?

Well, how about Big Ben’s history, and how Big Ben got its name? And that’s just for starters. 

Read on for 25 fun facts about Big Ben, including a few juicy snippets on the landmark’s ongoing renovation.

Interesting Facts About Big Ben

It’s actually called elizabeth tower .

The tower itself is Elizabeth Tower, and it’s the huge bell inside that’s called Big Ben. Why Big Ben? Well, it’s really big! In fact, the bell of Big Ben weighs over 13 tonnes. 

It was only in 2012 that the tower was given its current name, as an honour to Queen Elizabeth on her jubilee. 

What was the tower called before the new name? It was very imaginatively named Clock Tower. Big Ben’s clock faces are called The Big Clock, which is just as thoughtful. Not.

We’re not Sure how Big Ben got its Nickname 

One of the first questions many people ask about London’s famous clock is, ‘how did Big Ben get its name?’ 

The thing is, no one is quite sure. However, you might get one of two answers. Either could be true.

The first theory is that the bell (and now the whole clock, usually) was nicknamed ‘Big Ben’ after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first Director of Works. He was a large man, and known around the house as Big Ben.

The second suggests that the clock was named after a heavyweight boxer, champion at the time the tower and clock were built, Benjamin Caunt. He was also nicknamed Big Ben.

Big Ben

Big Ben’s Tower Leans Sideways

Don’t worry, the tower leans at an inclination of just 1/250 or 0.4 degrees. It’s not about to topple over, but if you look carefully when you’re standing close to Big Ben you should be able to see it tilt to one side. 

Big Ben has Always Been Important

In fact, the bell was seen as so important that when it arrived in London it was brought down the Thames in a barge as Londoners flocked to watch. Then, it was taken across Westminster Bridge in a carriage drawn by sixteen white horses. That’s a lot of ceremony for a bell!

Big Ben is Really, Really Accurate

In fact, the clock is accurate to within two seconds every two weeks. 

Of course, in order to keep Big Ben’s chimes sounding at just the right moment the clock has to be adjusted and wound. 

Winding takes over an hour, and someone has to wind the clock three times a week. On top of that, the pendulum is adjusted by adding old pennies (from before decimalisation). Each penny causes Big Ben to gain 0.4 seconds.

Big Ben

Big Ben has a long history

How old is Big Ben? Well, old enough to have been standing through the reigns of seven monarchs. That takes us right back to Queen Victoria, who was queen from 1837-1901. 

But Big Ben facts and history go back even further than that. The tower we now know as the Elizabeth Tower was not the first clock on the site. Far from it in fact. 

The first clock tower reported having been built where Westminster now stands was constructed in the 1290s. The first that we have records of was built in the 1360s, and was the first public chiming clock in England.

There were plenty more ups and downs at Westminster, including a fire, but ultimately Big Ben’s clock face began ticking in 1859.

Big Ben’s Face Went Dark in 1939

Of course our interesting facts about Big Ben had to include some wartime drama!

During WWII, the face of Big Ben’s clock was dimmed in compliance with blackout rules. With the whole of London dark, the glowing face would have been an easy target.

It Also Narrowly Avoided Being Bombed 

Having a dimmed clockface didn’t stop Big Ben from nearly taking a hit though. At one point during WWII, a German bomber dropped a bomb on The House of Commons right next door. The building was destroyed along with the roof of Westminster Hall. Through all the chaos of putting out the blaze (and the explosions themselves) Big Ben kept ticking – that’s one tough tower. 

In 1940, Big Ben Began Observing the Silent Minute

As a way to help Britons contemplate the terror and sadness of war, the BBC introduced the silent minute in 1940. 

This was a minute before the 9 o’clock news during which everyone listening to the radio was asked to quietly contemplate the sacrifices of soldiers on the battlefields of Europe. 

During this minute, Big Ben stayed silent and contemplative itself, to encourage Londoners to do the same. 

Big Ben

The Clock Tower Was Almost Destroyed During The Blitz

Despite the clock being darkened, enemy planes found the Houses of Parliament. 

In May 1941, the Commons Chamber at Westminster was destroyed by incendiary bombs. Luckily, though, Big Ben and its clock tower were undamaged. In fact, Big Ben was chiming as usual all through the bombing and the rebuilding of the Commons Chamber. 

Big Ben has its own Latin Motto

Here’s one for your Big Ben fact file. There’s a Latin saying beneath Big Ben’s clock face. It reads, OMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, and translated that means, ‘O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First’. 

This motto isn’t updated for new monarchs, as it is part of Big Ben’s history. 

The Light Above Big Ben is Important

Known as the Ayrton light, the green lantern above Big Ben shines whenever parliament is in session. 

It was installed at the request of Queen Victoria, who wanted to be able to see when the Commons or the Lords were sitting after dark. 

Big Ben

Going up Big Ben is Quite a Workout

The Elizabeth tower has a total of 399 steps. That’s 334 to the belfry, and a further 65 to the lantern above it. 

Big Ben’s caretaker and winder must be in good shape!

For a Long Time, Big Ben Lacked Public Conveniences

You came here for interesting facts about Big Ben, and we give you… toilets. 

Well, to be precise, the lack of a toilet.

The recent renovations on Big Ben gave the Elizabeth Tower its first ever loo. Previously, anyone working in or visiting Big Ben had to nip to the House of Commons when they needed to go. 

Big Ben Went Silent in 2017

Big Ben’s chimes stopped in 2017, but don’t worry, it was planned.

The silence was the first stage in a four-year renovation project which is set to end in 2022. The clock still chimes for special occasions, but not on the hour or quarter-hour as it usually would.

Big Ben

The COVID-19 Pandemic Held up Big Ben’s Most Recent Refurbishment

As if the global pandemic caused enough problems, it forced workers on Big Ben’s flagship refurbishment to down tools in early 2020. This added a year onto the project’s timeline, and is part of the reason that costs are estimated to have reached a whopping £80 million. 

You Can Tour Big Ben

At least, you usually can! The Elizabeth Tower has been closed during Big Ben’s refurbishment, but should open again in 2022.

In the meantime, you can still go to talks about the Elizabeth Tower and tour the Houses of Parliament . Along with the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben is usually one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. 

Big Ben

1976 was a Tough Year for Big Ben

This one is less a fun fact about Big Ben, and more a Big Ben tragedy!

In August 1976, a piece of Big Ben’s machinery snapped. The 117-year-old metal had become weak, and gave out in the night. 

That would have been bad enough on its own, but once the flywheel snapped it was thrown across the clock room, smashing everything it came into contact with. 

Local clock makers, Thwaites & Reed, who had bid for the initial Big Ben building contract but were not awarded it, came and saved the day.

Big Ben began keeping time again in early 1977, and Thwaites & Reed got to become a part of Big Ben’s history after all. 

Big Ben’s Clock Faces are Made of Glass

Which is why the last Big Ben fact (the 1976 mechanical failure) was so catastrophic! 

In fact, there are 312 pieces of glass in each of Big Ben’s clock dials. 

Big Ben

The BBC and Big Ben are Intimately Linked

Big Ben’s chimes were first broadcast by the BBC, or the British Broadcasting Company, in 1923. 

You’ll still hear those chimes on the BBC today. They are played before the News, amongst other things.

Big Ben was Once Late Chiming New Year

Although usually extremely accurate, Big Ben has slipped up a couple of times with its timekeeping.

Once, a flock of starlings landed on the clock face’s big hand. They were heavy enough to slow down Big Ben’s mechanism, knocking the clock off time.

And, in 1962, the winter was so cold that Big Ben was late to chime in the new year. Snow and ice were so heavy that December that the clock was once again weighed down, and rang in 1963 a full ten minutes late. That must have been confusing for partying Londoners!

The Hands on the Clock are MASSIVE

Ok geniuses, we hear you say, and you may be warranted in that comment. Clearly the hands on the clock are massive or else you wouldn’t be able to see them from all the way down on the ground. But just how big are they? 

Well, the minute hand measures in at 14ft long – more than the length of two adult males, one standing on the other. The hour hand measures in at 9ft long, still absolutely massive, and funnily enough the same length as London’s narrowest house. 

Big Ben Isn’t the Only Bell 

Nope, we bet you didn’t guess, Big Ben has more than one bell. There are actually four other, much smaller bells that chime alongside the Big Ben. These are called quarter bells and they help make the melody that you hear in the tower’s classic melody. 

The Bells Don’t Swing 

We often have the image of some big bell swinging back and forth as it rings but Big Ben and its four quater-bells are actually fixed in place. They’re struck by a massive swinging hammer to make them chime. 

The Clock Wasn’t Designed by a Clockmaker

Here’s an interesting Big Ben fact for you. The clock was not designed by a clockmaker – technically. In fact, the first designs were made by a clockmaker called Edward Dent, but the plans were changed so much over the construction of the clock that Edmund Beckett Denison, the man who made the changes became credited as chief designer. 

Denison was actually a lawyer and to double down on the interesting, he never patented his designs, meaning anyone is free to copy them to this day.  

Big Ben

There we are, 25 (mostly) fun facts about Big Ben. And they’re all interesting! 

Hopefully you’ll be ready for any surprise Big Ben questions, or London Landmark pub quiz rounds after reading them. 

We certainly feel like Big Ben boffins at London x London. Now, who can we go and impress with our knowledge of a large, famous clock?

Looking for More Interesting Facts About London?

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research about big ben

Hugh Hunt (Department of Engineering) discusses the mechanism that makes Big Ben chime, and why it needs repairing.

London is soon going to lose one of its most familiar sounds when the world-famous Big Ben falls silent for repairs. The “bonging” chimes that have marked the passing of time for Londoners since 1859 will fall silent for months beginning in 2017 as part of a three-year £29m conservation project.

Of course, “Big Ben” is the nickname of the Great Bell and the bell itself is not in bad shape – even though it does have a huge crack in it . The bell weighs nearly 14 tonnes and it cracked in 1859 when it was first bonged with a hammer that was way too heavy. The crack was never repaired. Instead the bell was rotated one eighth of a turn and a lighter (200kg) hammer was installed. The cracked bell has a characteristic sound which we have all grown to love, so maybe best leave it alone.

Instead, it is the Elizabeth Tower (1859) and the clock mechanism (1854), designed by Denison and Airy , that need attention.

research about big ben

Any building or machine needs regular maintenance – we paint our doors and windows when they need it and we repair or replace our cars quite routinely. It is convenient to choose a day when we’re out of the house to paint the doors, or when we don’t need the car to repair the brakes. But a clock just doesn’t stop – especially not a clock as iconic as the Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster.

Repairs to the tower are long overdue. There is corrosion damage to the cast iron roof and to the belfry structure which keeps the bells in place. There is water damage to the masonry and condensation problems will be addressed, too. There are plumbing and electrical works to be done for a lift to be installed in one of the ventilation shafts, toilet facilities and the fitting of low-energy lighting.

Marvel of engineering

The clock mechanism itself is remarkable. In its 162-year history it has only had one major breakdown. In 1976 the speed regulator for the chimes broke and the mechanism sped up to destruction. The resulting damage took months to repair.

research about big ben

The weights that drive the clock are, like the bells and hammers, unimaginably huge. The “drive train” that keeps the pendulum swinging and that turns the hands is driven by a weight of about 100kg. Two other weights that ring the bells are each over a tonne. If any of these weights falls out of control (as in the 1976 incident), they could do a lot of damage.

The pendulum suspension spring is especially critical because it holds up the huge pendulum bob which weighs 321kg. The swinging pendulum releases the “escapement” every two seconds which then turns the hands on the clock’s four faces. If you look very closely, you will see that the minute hand doesn’t move smoothly but it sits still most of the time, only moving on each tick by 1.5cm.

research about big ben

The pendulum swings back and forth 21,600 times a day. That’s nearly 8m times a year, bending the pendulum spring. Like any metal, it has the potential to suffer from fatigue. The pendulum needs to be lifted out of the clock so that the spring can be closely inspected.

The clock derives its remarkable accuracy in part from the temperature compensation which is built into the construction of the pendulum. This was yet another of John Harrison’s genius ideas (you probably know him from longitude fame). He came up with the solution of using metals of differing temperature expansion coefficient so that the pendulum doesn’t change in length as the temperature changes with the seasons.

In the Westminster clock, the pendulum shaft is made of concentric tubes of steel and zinc. A similar construction is described for the clock in Trinity College Cambridge and near perfect temperature compensation can be achieved. But zinc is a ductile metal and the tube deforms with time under the heavy load of the 321kg pendulum bob. This “creeping” will cause the temperature compensation to jam up and become less effective.

So stopping the clock will also be a good opportunity to dismantle the pendulum completely and to check that the zinc tube is sliding freely. This in itself is a few days' work.

What makes it tick

But the truly clever bit of this clock is the escapement. All clocks have one - it’s what makes the clock tick, quite literally. Denison developed his new gravity escapement especially for the Westminster clock. It decouples the driving force of the falling weight from the periodic force that maintains the motion of the pendulum. To this day, the best tower clocks in England use the gravity escapement leading to remarkable accuracy – better even than that of your quartz crystal wrist watch.

In Denison’s gravity escapement, the “tick” is the impact of the “legs” of the escapement colliding with hardened steel seats. Each collision causes microscopic damage which, accumulated over millions of collisions per year, causes wear and tear affecting the accuracy of the clock. It is impossible to inspect the escapement without stopping the clock. Part of the maintenance proposed during this stoppage is a thorough overhaul of the escapement and the other workings of the clock.

The Westminster clock is a remarkable icon for London and for England. For more than 150 years it has reminded us of each hour, tirelessly. That’s what I love about clocks – they seem to carry on without a fuss. But every now and then even the most famous of clocks need a bit of tender loving care. After this period of pampering, “Big Ben” ought to be set for another 100 or so years of trouble-free running.

Hugh Hunt , Reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation . Read the original article .

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author(s) and do not represent the views of the University of Cambridge.

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research about big ben

Articles on Big Ben

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I went down the ‘rabbit hole’ to debunk misinformation – here’s what I learned about Big Ben and online information overload

Eli Gottlieb , George Washington University

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Should the government crowdfund a Big Ben Brexit bong?

Ioannis Glinavos , University of Westminster

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Parliament may not have what it takes to fix its crumbling house

Matthew Flinders , University of Sheffield

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Big Ben silenced: Britain’s bong furore is a sign of national insecurity

Mark Clapson , University of Westminster

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Inside Big Ben: why the world’s most famous clock will soon lose its bong

Hugh Hunt , University of Cambridge

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The remarkable accuracy of the Trinity College clock – and what makes it tick

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Apple’s Big AI Splash Is Coming. What to Expect.

A pple is gearing up to make its big artificial-intelligence announcement. And ChatGPT-developer OpenAI is going to help it make a splash.

The companies plan to unveil their partnership at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which will be held online June 10-14, Bloomberg reported.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on the report.

Analysts have speculated that Apple could unveil a new AI-powered version of its Siri voice response system as well as other new services.

So far, Apple has looked at bringing generative technology to autocomplete email messages, a more robust Spotlight search function, and photo editing, The Wall Street Journal, reported.

Melius Research’s Ben Reitzes thinks the conference will bring good things for Apple.

“WWDC announcements are likely to drive iPhone units with a higher ASP [average selling price] at some point soon—and likely to secure Apple’s high-margin services revenue growth for a long time,” the analyst wrote in a research note on Monday.

Besides a new Siri, Reitzes thinks Apple’s AI integration probably will include innovations in photos and video. The changes are apt to require increased storage and better process, which both would be found in more expensive iPhones.

“Apple is likely to unveil AI that works better on the higher end of the iPhone line, reducing latency and improving security. Don’t forget, the iPhones bought in the Covid surge are turning 4 years old now and the base is about to get a big nudge,” the analyst wrote.

Reitzes reiterated a Buy rating and $227 target price. The stock was up 0.5% at $ 190.89 in late afternoon trading on Monday.

Adding OpenAI’s technology could help Apple’s coming iPhone 16 to take on its chief rival in the premium smartphone space, Samsung Electronics. The Korean company is aiming for double-digit percentage growth for its flagship AI-enabled S24 series from the S23, year over year, and its executives told Barron’s the company is pleased with its progress so far.

Samsung’s AI features for its smartphones included Google-powered “Circle to Search,” as well as real-time translation and AI-assisted note-taking.

Apple has been holding discussions with Google about using the Alphabet unit’s Gemini large-language model to power AI features for the iPhone, Bloomberg had reported.

However, joining with OpenAI—or with several AI providers—instead could help Apple avoid any antitrust claims. Google pays Apple billions of dollars a year to be the default search engine on the iPhone and in the Safari internet browser. The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the search company.

Write to Adam Clark at [email protected]

This article may contain affiliate links that Microsoft and/or the publisher may receive a commission from if you buy a product or service through those links.

Apple’s Big AI Splash Is Coming. What to Expect.

Researchers discover oldest known black hole that existed not long after the Big Bang

Formed 470 million years after the big bang, the black hole's existence confirms the theory that supermassive black holes were part of the early universe..

research about big ben

The discovery of a gigantic black hole billions of light-years from Earth is giving researchers a clearer picture of the dawn of the universe.

Using data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory, researchers were able to pinpoint the oldest black hole ever discovered. And not only is it ancient, but it's absolutely colossal − 10 times bigger than the black hole in our own Milky Way.

What is space junk? Why space agencies are seeking to reduce the amount of orbital debris from aging satellites

Formed 470 million years after the Big Bang, its existence confirms the theory that supermassive black holes were part of the early universe. Scientists estimate that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, which makes the age of the black hole 13.2 billion years.

The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, suggest that the black hole was born supermassive − roughly equal to 10 and 100 million suns − during the earliest era of the universe. A companion article appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"It’s like planting a sapling, which takes less time to grow into a full-size tree than if you started with only a seed,” study co-author Andy Goulding , an astrophysicist at Princeton University, said in a news release . “There are physical limits on how quickly black holes can grow once they’ve formed, but ones that are born more massive have a head start."

'Not to be missed': 'Devil comet' may be visible to naked eye in April. Here's how to see it.

When was the first black hole discovered?

The first black hole was identified in 1964 when astronomers used a sounding rocket to detect celestial sources of X-rays  within the Milky Way in the constellation of Cygnus, according to NASA .

But it wasn't until four years ago that humanity caught the first glimpse of a black hole when scientists released a photo of one in a giant galaxy 53 million light-years from Earth.

The image of the black hole, which was refined in April to appear more clear , resembled a flaming doughnut-shaped object emerging from a dark backdrop in the Virgo cluster.

Research around the celestial objects has been tricky given the inability for humankind to get close to black holes , regions of space where the pull of gravity is so intense that even light doesn't have enough energy to escape.

But the photo of one gleaned from images from telescopes around the world was a step forward for scientists who have long been interested in learning more about the mysterious objects. Since then, scientists in April revealed the discovery of two black holes bigger than our sun residing in "our cosmic backyard."

'Awe-inspiring:' See 5 stunning photos of the cosmos captured by Europe's Euclid telescope

Study: Black hole was supermassive from the beginning

The newly discovered black hole is in an early stage of growth when its mass is similar to that of the entire galaxy, which researchers have never before witnessed, according to NASA.

Led by Akos Bogdan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the team found the black hole in a galaxy named UHZ1 in the direction of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744. The two space telescopes − Webb and Chandra − used a technique called gravitational lensing to magnify the region of space where the galaxy and the black hole are located and boost the amount of light detected.

While the galaxy cluster is 3.5 billion light-years from Earth, Webb data revealed the light from UHZ1 itself was emitted 13.2 billion years ago, when the universe was only 3% of its current age. Researchers made two weeks of observations with Chandra that showed the presence of intense, superheated X-ray emitting gas in this galaxy − a telltale sign of a growing supermassive black hole.

The researchers believe the black hole − which unlike most black holes has roughly the same mass as all the stars in the galaxy combined − formed from the collapse of massive clouds of gas. The black hole doesn't appear to have grown gradually but rather was supermassive from its earliest formation.

“For the first time we are seeing a brief stage where a supermassive black hole weighs about as much as the stars in its galaxy, before it falls behind," Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan , who took part in the study, said in a statement.

Radio waves: Burst that traveled 8 billion years to reach Earth is the farthest ever detected

Life on Mars? Researchers find signs of rivers on Mars, a potential indicator of ancient life

Discovery is latest made by Webb telescope

It's the latest discovery made possible by   NASA's James Webb telescope , which launched in 2021 to a point 1 million miles away.

The newest of NASA's space telescope fleet, Webb is the biggest and most powerful astronomical observatory ever sent into space. While Webb sees in infrared, Chandra, which was launched into orbit in 1999, has X-ray vision.

In Webb's two years, the telescope has offered stunning views of  our solar system's planets , galaxies, stars and  other parts of the universe  never glimpsed before.

In February, NASA shared the findings from the Webb telescope of  "mega galaxies" that date back to within 600 million years of the Big Bang .

And in September, Webb uncovered evidence of a possible ocean world larger than Earth with conditions that could support life. It was the second time this year that the telescope  discovered a planet  outside our solar system, known as an exoplanet, that shares similar qualities with Earth.

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at [email protected]

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News Roundup Spring 2024

The Class of 2024 spring graduation celebration

CEGE Spring Graduation Celebration and Order of the Engineer

Forty-seven graduates of the undergraduate and grad student programs (pictured above) in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering took part in the Order of the Engineer on graduation day. Distinguished Speakers at this departmental event included Katrina Kessler (MS EnvE 2021), Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and student Brian Balquist. Following this event, students participated in the college-wide Commencement Ceremony at 3M Arena at Mariucci. 


The University of Minnesota’s Crookston, Duluth, and Rochester campuses have been awarded the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement, joining the Twin Cities (2006, 2015) and Morris campuses (2015), and making the U of M the country’s first and only university system at which every individual campus has received this selective designation. Only 368 from nearly 4,000 qualifying U.S. universities and colleges have been granted this designation.

CEGE contributed strongly to the College of Science and Engineering’s efforts toward sustainability research. CEGE researchers are bringing in over $35 million in funded research to study carbon mineralization, nature and urban areas, circularity of water resources, and global snowfall patterns. This news was highlighted in the Fall 2023 issue of  Inventing Tomorrow  (pages 10-11). https://issuu.com/inventingtomorrow/docs/fall_2023_inventing_tomorrow-web

CEGE’s new program for a one-year master’s degree in structural engineering is now accepting applicants for Fall 2024. We owe a big thanks to DAN MURPHY and LAURA AMUNDSON for their volunteer work to help curate the program with Professor JIA-LIANG LE and EBRAHIM SHEMSHADIAN, the program director. Potential students and companies interested in hosting a summer intern can contact Ebrahim Shemshadian ( [email protected] ).

BERNIE BULLERT , CEGE benefactor and MN Water Research Fund founder, was profiled on the website of the University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF). There you can read more about his mission to share clean water technologies with smaller communities in Minnesota. Many have joined Bullert in this mission. MWRF Recognizes their Generous 2024 Partners. Gold Partners: Bernie Bullert, Hawkins, Inc., Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and SL-serco. Silver Partners: ISG, Karl and Pam Streed, Kasco, Kelly Lange-Haider and Mark Haider, ME Simpson, Naeem Qureshi, Dr. Paul H. Boening, TKDA, and Waterous. Bronze Partners: Bruce R. Bullert; Brenda Lenz, Ph.D., APRN FNP-C, CNE; CDM Smith; Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA MN); Heidi and Steve Hamilton; Jim “Bulldog” Sadler; Lisa and Del Cerney; Magney Construction; Sambatek; Shannon and John Wolkerstorfer; Stantec; and Tenon Systems.

After retiring from Baker-Tilly,  NICK DRAGISICH  (BCE 1977) has taken on a new role: City Council member in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. After earning his BCE from the University of Minnesota, Dragisich earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas. Dragisich retired in May from his position as managing director at Baker Tilly, where he had previously served as firm director. Prior to that, he served as assistant city manager in Spokane, Washington, was the city administrator and city engineer in Virginia, Minnesota, and was mayor of Chisholm, Minnesota—all adding up to more than 40 years of experience in local government. Dragisich was selected by a unanimous vote. His current term expires in December 2024.

PAUL F. GNIRK  (Ph.D. 1966) passed away January 29, 2024, at the age of 86. A memorial service was held Saturday, February 24, at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T), where he started and ended his teaching career, though he had many other positions, professional and voluntary. In 2018 Paul was inducted into the SDSM&T Hardrocker Hall of Fame, and in 2022, he was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, joining his mother Adeline S. Gnirk, who had been inducted in 1987 for her work authoring nine books on the history of south central South Dakota.

ROGER M. HILL  (BCE 1957) passed away on January 13, 2024, at the age of 90. His daughter, Kelly Robinson, wrote to CEGE that Roger was “a dedicated Gopher fan until the end, and we enjoyed many football games together in recent years. Thank you for everything.”

KAUSER JAHAN  (Ph.D. 1993, advised by Walter Maier), PE, is now a civil and environmental engineering professor and department head at Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering. Jahan was awarded a 3-year (2022- 2025), $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The grant supports her project, “WaterWorks: Developing the New Generation of Workforce for Water/Wastewater Utilities,” for the development of educational tools that will expose and prepare today’s students for careers in water and wastewater utilities.

SAURA JOST  (BCE 2010, advised by Timothy LaPara) was elected to the St. Paul City Council for Ward 3. She is part of the historic group of women that make up the nation’s first all-female city council in a large city.

The 2024 ASCE Western Great Lakes Student Symposium combines several competitions for students involved in ASCE. CEGE sent a large contingent of competitors to Chicago. Each of the competition groups won awards: Ethics Paper 1st place Hans Lagerquist; Sustainable Solutions team 1st place overall in (qualifying them for the National competition in Utah in June); GeoWall 2nd place overall; Men’s Sprint for Concrete Canoe with rowers Sakthi Sundaram Saravanan and Owen McDonald 2nd place; Product Prototype for Concrete Canoe 2nd place; Steel Bridge (200 lb bridge weight) 2nd place in lightness; Scavenger Hunt 3rd place; and Aesthetics and Structural Efficiency for Steel Bridge 4th place.

Students competing on the Minnesota Environmental Engineers, Scientists, and Enthusiasts (MEESE) team earned second place in the Conference on the Environment undergraduate student design competition in November 2023. Erin Surdo is the MEESE Faculty Adviser. Pictured are NIKO DESHPANDE, ANNA RETTLER, and SYDNEY OLSON.

The CEGE CLASS OF 2023 raised money to help reduce the financial barrier for fellow students taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, a cost of $175 per test taker. As a result of this gift, they were able to make the exam more affordable for 15 current CEGE seniors. CEGE students who take the FE exam pass the first time at a rate well above national averages, demonstrating that CEGE does a great job of teaching engineering fundamentals. In 2023, 46 of 50 students passed the challenging exam on the first try.

This winter break, four CEGE students joined 10 other students from the College of Science and Engineering for the global seminar, Design for Life: Water in Tanzania. The students visited numerous sites in Tanzania, collected water source samples, designed rural water systems, and went on safari. Read the trip blog: http://globalblogs.cse.umn.edu/search/label/Tanzania%202024

Undergraduate Honor Student  MALIK KHADAR  (advised by Dr. Paul Capel) received honorable mention for the Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award for undergraduate students who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.


AKASH BHAT  (advised by William Arnold) presented his Ph.D. defense on Friday, October 27, 2023. Bhat’s thesis is “Photolysis of fluorochemicals: Tracking fluorine, use of UV-LEDs, and computational insights.” Bhat’s work investigating the degradation of fluorinated compounds will assist in the future design of fluorinated chemicals such that persistent and/or toxic byproducts are not formed in the environment.

ETHAN BOTMEN  (advised by Bill Arnold) completed his Master of Science Final Exam February 28, 2024. His research topic was Degradation of Fluorinated Compounds by Nucleophilic Attack of Organo-fluorine Functional Groups.

XIATING CHEN , Ph.D. Candidate in Water Resources Engineering at the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory is the recipient of the 2023 Nels Nelson Memorial Fellowship Award. Chen (advised by Xue Feng) is researching eco-hydrological functions of urban trees and other green infrastructure at both the local and watershed scale, through combined field observations and modeling approaches.

ALICE PRATES BISSO DAMBROZ  has been a Visiting Student Researcher at the University of Minnesota since last August, on a Doctoral Dissertation Research Award from Fulbright. Her CEGE advisor is Dr. Paul Capel. Dambroz is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Soil Science at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil, where she studies with her adviser Jean Minella. Her research focuses on the hydrological monitoring of a small agricultural watershed in Southern Brazil, which is located on a transition area between volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Its topography, shallow soils, and land use make it prone to runoff and erosion processes.

Yielding to people in crosswalks should be a very pedestrian topic. Yet graduate student researchers  TIANYI LI, JOSHUA KLAVINS, TE XU, NIAZ MAHMUD ZAFRI  (Dept.of Urban and Regional Planning at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), and Professor Raphael Stern found that drivers often do not yield to pedestrians, but they are influenced by the markings around a crosswalk. Their work was picked up by the  Minnesota Reformer.

TIANYI LI  (Ph.D. student advised by Raphael Stern) also won the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation (DDET) Fellowship for the third time! Li (center) and Stern (right) are pictured at the Federal Highway Administration with Latoya Jones, the program manager for the DDET Fellowship.

The Three Minute Thesis Contest and the Minnesota Nice trophy has become an annual tradition in CEGE. 2023’s winner was  EHSANUR RAHMAN , a Ph.D. student advised by Boya Xiong.

GUANJU (WILLIAM) WEI , a Ph.D. student advised by Judy Yang, is the recipient of the 2023 Heinz G. Stefan Fellowship. He presented his research entitled Microfluidic Investigation of the Biofilm Growth under Dynamic Fluid Environments and received his award at the St. Anthony Falls Research Laboratory April 9. The results of Wei's research can be used in industrial, medical, and scientific fields to control biofilm growth.

BILL ARNOLD  stars in an award-winning video about prairie potholes. The Prairie Potholes Project film was made with the University of Delaware and highlights Arnold’s NSF research. The official winners of the 2024 Environmental Communications Awards Competition Grand Prize are Jon Cox and Ben Hemmings who produced and directed the film. Graduate student Marcia Pacheco (CFANS/LAAS) and Bill Arnold are the on-screen stars.

Four faculty from CEGE join the Center for Transportation Studies Faculty and Research Scholars for FY24–25:  SEONGJIN CHOI, KETSON ROBERTO MAXIMIANO DOS SANTOS, PEDRAM MORTAZAVI,  and  BENJAMIN WORSFOLD . CTS Scholars are drawn from diverse fields including engineering, planning, computer science, environmental studies, and public policy.

XUE FENG  is coauthor on an article in  Nature Reviews Earth and Environment . The authors evaluate global plant responses to changing rainfall regimes that are now characterized by fewer and larger rainfall events. A news release written at Univ. of Maryland can be found here: https://webhost.essic. umd.edu/april-showers-bring-mayflowers- but-with-drizzles-or-downpours/ A long-running series of U of M research projects aimed at improving stormwater quality are beginning to see practical application by stormwater specialists from the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. JOHN GULLIVER has been studying best practices for stormwater management for about 16 years. Lately, he has focused specifically on mitigating phosphorous contamination. His research was highlighted by the Center for Transportation Studies.

JIAQI LI, BILL ARNOLD,  and  RAYMOND HOZALSKI  published a paper on N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) precursors in Minnesota rivers. “Animal Feedlots and Domestic Wastewater Discharges are Likely Sources of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) Precursors in Midwestern Watersheds,” Environmental Science and Technology (January 2024) doi: 10.1021/acs. est.3c09251

ALIREZA KHANI  contributed to MnDOT research on Optimizing Charging Infrastructure for Electric Trucks. Electric options for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks (e-trucks) are still largely in development. These trucks account for a substantial percentage of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. They have greater power needs and different charging needs than personal EVs. Proactively planning for e-truck charging stations will support MnDOT in helping to achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. This research was featured in the webinar “Electrification of the Freight System in Minnesota,” hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. A recording of the event is now available online.

MICHAEL LEVIN  has developed a unique course for CEGE students on Air Transportation Systems. It is the only class at UMN studying air transportation systems from an infrastructure design and management perspective. Spring 2024 saw the third offering of this course, which is offered for juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

Research Professor  SOFIA (SONIA) MOGILEVSKAYA  has been developing international connections. She visited the University of Seville, Spain, November 13–26, 2023, where she taught a short course titled “Fundamentals of Homogenization in Composites.” She also met with the graduate students to discuss collaborative research with Prof. Vladislav Mantic, from the Group of Continuum Mechanics and Structural Analysis at the University of Seville. Her visit was a part of planned activities within the DIAGONAL Consortium funded by the European Commission. CEGE UMN is a partner organization within DIAGONAL, represented by CEGE professors Mogilevskaya and Joseph Labuz. Mantic will visit CEGE summer 2024 to follow up on research developments and discuss plans for future collaboration and organization of short-term exchange visits for the graduate students from each institution. 

DAVID NEWCOMB  passed away in March. He was a professor in CEGE from 1989–99 in the area of pavement engineering. Newcomb led the research program on asphalt materials characterization. He was the technical director of Mn/ROAD pavement research facility, and he started an enduring collaboration with MnDOT that continues today. In 2000, he moved from Minnesota to become vice-president for Research and Technology at the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Later he moved to his native Texas, where he was appointed to the division head of Materials and Pavement at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a position from which he recently retired. He will be greatly missed.

PAIGE NOVAK  won Minnesota ASCE’s 2023 Distinguished Engineer of the Year Award for her contributions to society through her engineering achievements and professional experiences.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced ten inaugural (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines awards, with a potential $1.6 billion investment nationally over the next decade. Great Lakes ReNEW is led by the Chicago-based water innovation hub,  Current,  and includes a team from the University of Minnesota, including PAIGE NOVAK. Current will receive $15 mil for the first two years, and up to $160 million over ten years to develop and grow a water-focused innovation engine in the Great Lakes region. The project’s ambitious plan is to create a decarbonized circular “blue economy” to leverage the region’s extraordinary water resources to transform the upper Midwest—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Brewing one pint of beer generates seven pints of wastewater, on average. So what can you do with that wastewater?  PAIGE NOVAK  and her team are exploring the possibilities of capturing pollutants in wastewater and using bacteria to transform them into energy.

BOYA XIONG  has been selected as a recipient of the 2024 40 Under 40 Recognition Program by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. The award was presented at the 2024 AAEES Awards Ceremony, April 11, 2024, at the historic Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

JUDY Q. YANG  received a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship Award. This two-year award recognizes promising assistant professors and is intended to advance the careers of individuals who have the potential to make significant contributions to their departments and their scholarly fields. 

Professor Emeritus CHARLES FAIRHURST , his son CHARLES EDWARD FAIRHURST , and his daughter MARGARET FAIRHURST DURENBERGER were on campus recently to present Department Head Paige Novak with a check for $25,000 for the Charles Fairhurst Fellowship in Earth Resources Engineering in support of graduate students studying geomechanics. The life of Charles Fairhurst through a discussion with his children is featured on the Engineering and Technology History Wiki at https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Charles_Fairhurst#00:00:14_INTRODUCTION

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  1. Big Ben

    Big Ben, tower clock, famous for its accuracy and for its massive bell.Strictly speaking, the name refers to only the great hour bell, which weighs 15.1 tons (13.7 metric tons), but it is commonly associated with the whole clock tower at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament, in the London borough of Westminster.The tower itself was formally known as St. Stephen's Tower until 2012 ...

  2. Big Ben

    Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the Great Clock of Westminster, and, by extension, for the clock tower itself, which stands at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, England. Originally known simply as the Clock Tower, it was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.The clock is a striking clock with five bells.

  3. A brief history of Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower

    Big Ben remains silent with the largest quarter bell striking the hourly chime. 1863: At the suggestion of Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, Big Ben is turned 90 degrees and the hammer size reduced, allowing Big Ben to strike the hours once more. 1923: BBC Radio first broadcast s Big Ben's chimes to the United Kingdom on New Year's Eve.

  4. Facts and figures: Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower

    The Elizabeth Tower . Imagine 21 London buses sitting on top of each other. That's the height of the Elizabeth Tower. 11 floors. 96 metres.. I t's a long climb to the top. 292 steps to the clock faces and 334 steps to the Belfry where Big Ben, the Great Bell, hangs.. Climb another 65 steps and you reach the Ayrton Light, the lantern that shines when the House s of Parliament are sitting.

  5. Big Ben

    Big Ben is probably the world's most famous clock. That iconic silhouette is instantly recognisable and is one of the most Instagrammed landmarks on the planet. Six monarchs and 41 prime ministers have come and gone since the bells first struck their now familiar music across Westminster. Here we tell Big Ben's historic story in words and images.

  6. Big Ben

    Big Ben history. Though the name 'Big Ben' is often attributed to the entire clock tower attached to the Houses of Parliament, it is actually the nickname of its largest bell - also known as the Great Bell. The tower itself is named Elizabeth Tower and, along with its collection of bells and four vast clock faces, was constructed between ...

  7. A Brief History Of Big Ben and Its Clock Tower

    1910: Big Ben is co-opted into the funeral procession of Edward VII. The bell tolled 68 times to mark the late king's years. The tradition would be repeated with subsequent monarchs.

  8. Big Ben in London

    Fun facts about Big Ben. Each dial is seven metres in diameter. The minute hands are 4.2 metres long (14ft) and weigh about 100kg (220lbs, including counterweights). The numbers are approximately 60cm (23in) long. There are 312 pieces of glass in each clock dial. A special light above the clock faces is illuminated when parliament is in session.

  9. Big Ben

    Big Ben under repair, 1987. Breakfast Time reports that Big Ben has lost its bong. The sound of Big Ben and the image of its tower are synonymous with London. The BBC has recorded how this iconic ...

  10. Big Ben

    Big Ben. Big Ben, the name given to the clock in the eastern tower of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, was originally applied only to its 13-ton bell, supposedly named after Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works (1859). Famous for its accuracy, its chimes have become familiar nation-wide through radio and television. A. S. Hargreaves.

  11. Big Ben rings out over London for the first time

    The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high Elizabeth Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on May 31, 1859.

  12. Big Ben: Everything You Need to Know About London's Famous Clock

    Big Ben in numbers. The clock tower is the same height as 21 London buses piled on top of each other, i.e. 315 feet. There are 292 steps to get to the dial and 334 steps to get to the belfry where the Great Bell is kept. The clock has four dials, each with a 23-foot diameter. At night, the four dials are illuminated.

  13. Much more than a clock

    No wonder Big Ben is the most instagrammed place in the UK. And social media is not the only place you will come across Parliament's clocktower. Big Ben has captured the imagination of the country, indeed the world. The clocktower has played a starring role in artwork, books, film and television. From children's tales to action thrillers ...

  14. Big Ben Fast Facts

    1923 - Big Ben's chimes are broadcast by BBC Radio on New Year's Eve. 1939-April 1945 - The clock dials are unlit due to wartime blackout regulations. August 1976 - Nine months of repairs begin.

  15. 25 Fascinating Facts About Big Ben We'll Bet You Never Knew

    Big Ben is Really, Really Accurate. In fact, the clock is accurate to within two seconds every two weeks. Of course, in order to keep Big Ben's chimes sounding at just the right moment the clock has to be adjusted and wound. Winding takes over an hour, and someone has to wind the clock three times a week.

  16. Opinion: Inside Big Ben: why the world's most famous clock will soon

    London is soon going to lose one of its most familiar sounds when the world-famous Big Ben falls silent for repairs. The "bonging" chimes that have marked the passing of time for Londoners since 1859 will fall silent for months beginning in 2017 as part of a three-year £29m conservation project.. Of course, "Big Ben" is the nickname of the Great Bell and the bell itself is not in bad ...

  17. How Big Ben's Elizabeth Tower was refurbished

    How Big Ben's Elizabeth Tower was refurbished. 5/15/2023. 8 MIN READ. By Robert L. Reid. When the London office of the global infrastructure consultancy AECOM was asked by the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament to refurbish the Elizabeth Tower the engineers expected the job would involve a "fairly light touch" to maintain the tower ...

  18. Conservation of Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben

    Big Ben undergoes the biggest conservation in its history. Affectionately known around the world as Big Ben and shrouded in scaffolding from 2017-2022, the Elizabeth Tower was repaired from the gilt cross and orb at its tip, to the bottom of its 334-step staircase. It was the largest and most complex conservation project in the Tower's history.

  19. Big Ben News, Research and Analysis

    Inside Big Ben: why the world's most famous clock will soon lose its bong. Hugh Hunt, University of Cambridge. It's not the bell that needs attention, it's the Elizabeth Tower that houses it ...

  20. Apple's Big AI Splash Is Coming. What to Expect.

    Melius Research's Ben Reitzes thinks the conference will bring good things for Apple. ... the iPhones bought in the Covid surge are turning 4 years old now and the base is about to get a big ...

  21. Researchers discover ancient supermassive black hole dating to Big Bang

    Researchers discover oldest known black hole that existed not long after the Big Bang. Formed 470 million years after the Big Bang, the black hole's existence confirms the theory that supermassive ...

  22. Big Ben in popular culture

    Big Ben has also made numerous appearances on television and not just for New Year's Eve.For some shows the tower is in every episode as part of the credits, including on the 1980's comedyYes, Minister, the quiz show Have I Got News for You and ITV'sNews at Ten.The biggest Big Ben fans, however, must be theteam behindDr Who.

  23. News Roundup Spring 2024

    CEGE Spring Graduation Celebration and Order of the EngineerForty-seven graduates of the undergraduate and grad student programs (pictured above) in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering took part in the Order of the Engineer on graduation day. Distinguished Speakers at this departmental event included Katrina Kessler (MS EnvE 2021), Commissioner of the Minnesota ...

  24. Big Ben to be tested this week ahead of permanent reconnection

    10 October 2022. Oct. 10. 2022. Visitors to Westminster will hear Big Ben and the four quarter bells of the Elizabeth Tower being struck later this week, as tests take place ahead of permanent reconnection of the bells in the coming weeks. Teams working on the project have now finished 'silent testing', where the hammers have been run over ...