At the time of writing (12th June 2015), numerous accounts of a recently claimed verification of John Harrison’s prediction of the performance of his ultimate land-based precision regulator system (as embodied in his final land-based regulator, popularly referred to as the ‘RAS Regulator’) may be found by conducting an internet search using, for example, the words: harrison one second in a hundred days
As described and explained elsewhere on this website (soptera.wordpress.com) Harrison’s claim (in his 1775 manuscript ‘Concerning Such Mechanism…’, often abbreviated as ‘CSM’, for which see the DOWNLOADS section) was that his precision regulator system should be capable of a mean rate to within one second in a hundred days.
Nothing would please me more than to be able to congratulate those involved in the creation of a modern embodiment of Harrison’s principles, capable of demonstrating his performance claims. Unfortunately, an adequate account of the processes by which those claims have recently been verified is, according to my investigations, not available.
May I remind those involved, together with the horological community, of the following, and ask that the principles therein be followed:
Left mouse click once on the following link for an explanation of The Scientific Method: The Scientific Method
May I draw particular attention to the paragraphs in the above link entitled: ‘Replication’, ‘External review’ and ‘Data recording and sharing’. In short, what is undoubtedly necessary is a detailed account of the dimensions, materials and processes involved in the creation of the test regulator, a detailed description of the methods of set-up and adjustment of the test regulator and a through account of the test environment, test equipment and test methods.
Regarding test equipment, particular attention must be paid to the extent to which the test regulator was exposed to variations in the ‘natural atmosphere’ (by which phrase I mean the Earth’s free atmosphere, external to the test building). Further attention must be paid to explaining the degree of sealing of the case from pressure and temperature variations in the ‘natural atmosphere’ and the extent of variation imposed upon the temperature of the ‘natural atmosphere’ (e.g. by any man-made heating system, such as hot water radiator(s) to the test area, amongst many other possibilities). I would expect that heating by sunlight would have been carefully eliminated, although confirmation would be included in any thorough explanation of the test area. I have assumed that variations in the pressure of the ‘natural atmosphere’ are transmitted with little, if any, delay to the test area, although confirmation would also be included in any thorough explanation.
May I also emphasise that, in CSM, Harrison includes a statement that two regulators are necessary for correct adjustment of his ultimate land-based regulator system. Any account of the recently conducted set-up, adjustment and test methods should therefore include an explanation of the means by which this requirement was eliminated.
SUBSEQUENT ADDITION TO THE ABOVE POST, 7th JULY 2015
The above post was published as a comment on http://blogs.rmg.co.uk/longitude/2015/01/16/harrison-decoded-towards-perfect-pendulum-clock/ which is a blog created by the team responsible for the test.
On 7th July, the following comment was also submitted for inclusion on that blog, in response to the publication of the test results by a team member, Mr Rory McEvoy:
Many thanks to Rory McEvoy for publishing the test results elsewhere on this site: http://blogs.rmg.co.uk/longitude/2015/06/27/a-second-in-one-hundred-days-the-results/
Unfortunately, comments regarding the test are not permitted below Rory’s post in the above link, so I’ll offer them here instead:
The results suggest an unnaturally constant test temperature (within 5 deg C), at very likely variance with that of the ‘natural atmosphere’ (by which phrase I mean the Earth’s free atmosphere, external to the test building). I doubt that the temperature of the ‘natural atmosphere’ of the test location (in the south of the UK) for an entire 100 days from April 2014 never varied by more than 5 degrees C. Given the variations in barometric pressure during the test period, the achieved performance is, therefore, at considerable odds with my understanding of Harrison’s compensation for pressure variation in the ‘natural atmosphere’ via (at least in part) an excess component of temperature compensation, as generated by exactly the same ‘natural atmosphere’ at, or close to, the same instant.
Put simply, despite Rory’s report, all of the points in my post of 8:15am, June 19th 2015 (see above) still apply, as do the questions and requests they raise.
In brief, what is therefore still required is a detailed account of the dimensions, materials and processes involved in the creation of the ‘Burgess B’ test regulator, a detailed description of the methods of set-up and adjustment of the test regulator and a through account of the test environment, test equipment and test methods. More detailed and especially essential requirements were described in my previous post. The objective must be to enable independent replication of Burgess B, the test set-up and the test conditions, followed by no less independent verification of the test results and Harrison’s claim of a mean rate to within one second in a hundred days.
Until others have confirmed the 100 day test results entirely independently (I repeat, entirely independently), Harrison’s claim and his land-based longcase regulator science will, in my opinion, remain no less shrouded in doubt, mystery and misunderstanding than they have been since the 24th of March 1776. Published results or not, a single Burgess B and a single test is, quite simply, not good enough, as any competent scientist would surely agree.
In 1775, in his final manuscript ‘Concerning Such Mechanism…’, Harrison envisaged that a copy of (something closely related to) his Final Regulator (now popularly referred to as the ‘RAS Regulator’) would sit in a dedicated building in at least every major port, all set to Greenwich Time, all no doubt achieving a mean rate to within one second in a hundred days. With that in mind, we should consider Harrison’s land-based precision regulator science and his eighteenth century vision to have been PROPERLY verified when we demonstrate that it can be consistently achieved by more than one timepiece, independently constructed and adjusted in accordance with his principles, without any manipulation of the ‘natural atmosphere’ by inappropriately far more modern means.
David Heskin (glathoppa)
SUBSEQUENT ADDITION TO THE ABOVE POST, 30th NOVEMBER 2015
All attempts to open any of the blog links mentioned in the above posts failed on 30th November 2015. All records of the claims have apparently disappeared, as have the comments and criticisms submitted by myself and Dr Paul Smith. Access may have been denied at any date before today, although I recall using the links a few months ago with success.
David Heskin (glathoppa)