Want: Part III

By Phil Plait | January 4, 2008 1:00 pm

Via Astropixie comes this item of win:

But it doesn’t say how I can get one!

And how would 1984 open? “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 9 + root(9) + 9/9.” Not quite the same ring to it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Humor

Comments (62)

  1. Fritriac

    Woah! Schweet! Definitely want too!

  2. Rav Winston

    Oh! This is TOO FRELLING KEWL!

  3. aiabx

    Hey! The clock says it’s time for 9 beers!

  4. JackC

    Feh. It isn’t a sqrt(9) * 9 – sqrt(9) hour clock. Who needs it?

  5. alfaniner

    Do I want one?


  6. alfaniner

    Actually – maybe I do want one — I love unusual clocks. But the joke didn’t work the other way…

  7. SonOfSLJ

    I would have phrased the joke something like…

    “Can I live without one?



  8. Christian X Burnham

    You need to express 13 using only three ‘9’s. Can it be done?

  9. Michelle

    that is so GEEK!

    I want it! (what’s the triple nine society?)

  10. Fergus Gallagher

    13 = 9 + sqrt(9) + .9 bar

  11. Chip

    D’oh! Oh course. I gotta get that.

  12. I think I’ve confused my coworkers enough with my binary clocks.

  13. Cameron

    I just need to figure out how to replicate the cool design in the center. Then it’s not too hard to print out a clock face and replace an old one.

  14. MarshallDog

    There’s a glare… does 1 o’clock say (9/9) to the 9th power?
    And does anyone know how to prove .9 bar is equal to 1?

  15. Chris R.

    Why do analog clocks even have numbers? Are they afraid people will forget how to tell time on them? 😛

  16. Phy

    Chris R. – but if you don’t have numbers on an analog clock, how will you know when you’ve hung it upside down? 😉

  17. Fergus Gallagher


    (‘ = bar)

    10x – x = 9.9′ – 0.9′ = 9
    => x=1


    1/3 = .3′
    3 * .3′ = 3 * 1/3 = 1
    but 3 * .3′ = 0.9′
    => 0.9’ = 1

  18. Fergus Gallagher

    @Chris R

    – I guess you don’t have have young children to try to teach to tell the time, then!

  19. This clock gets a failing grade. It fails to reduce the expressions to the simplest possible terms.

  20. It fails to reduce the expressions to the simplest possible terms.

    Lawyers need clocks too.

  21. > Why do analog clocks even have numbers? Are they afraid people will forget how to tell time on them?

    There are 12-hour analog clocks, 24-hour analog clocks, probably various other X-hour analog clocks for specific purposes, so on and so forth…

  22. OK, OK, I’m entranced by the none-ness of the thing, but ….

    … why 9?

    They could have used any other single-digit integer (though “1” would have been pretty pointless).

  23. OK, OK, I’m entranced by the none-ness of thing, but ….

    … why 9?

    They could have used any other single-digit integer (though “1” would have been pretty pointless).

  24. Mikhail Bragoria

    pfft… it’s not even a 24 hour clock.

  25. Murff

    I like the inner design, it would be better without all the 9 crap…

  26. Sean

    Doesn’t have to be nine. I just worked out a whole clock using a triple 3.
    8 was pretty trippy. Any other numbers?

  27. Moose

    Oh, that’s slick. I want one.

  28. is there any particular significance to the symbol in the center. Reminds of something from the TV series Threshold a couple of years ago.

  29. Tim G

    Suggested Remaining Hours for a 24 Hour Clock:

    9+9 – 9!/9
    9 + 9!/9
    9! / sqrt(9) OR 9 + sqrt(9)!
    9! / sqrt(9) + 9/9 OR 9 + sqrt(9)! + 9/9
    9+9 – 9/9
    9+9 + 9/9
    ( 9 – sqrt(9) )! – 9/9
    ( 9 – sqrt(9) )!
    ( 9 – sqrt(9) )! + 9/9
    9! / sqrt(9) + 9

  30. MandyDax

    @Tim G
    It’s a triple-nine clock. You have to use exactly three nines in the expressions.

    BTW, 9!=9*8*7*6*5*4*3*2*1=362880

    I couldn’t find solutions for 20, 22, and 23 using three 9’s. I’m sure someone here is smart enough with logic to prove if there are no solutions for them. 😛

  31. Anotherplayaguy

    Has anyone worked out the numbers 1-12 using three sixes?

    If so, I’d like to see it.


  32. ZZMike says: “OK, OK, I’m entranced by the nine-ness of thing, but ….
    … why 9? They could have used any other single-digit integer (though “1? would have been pretty pointless).”

    It’s a reference to the “triple 9 society”, a sort of super-Mensa group where your IQ has to be at or above 99.9% of the general population (roughly 134).

    – Jack

  33. 1 = ((6-6)*6)!
    2 = (6+6)/6
    3 =
    4 =
    5 = 6-(6/6)
    6 = 6-(6-6)
    7 = 6+(6/6)
    8 =
    9 =
    10 =
    11 = 66/6
    12 = 6+(sqrt(6) * sqrt(6))

  34. alfaniner wrote:
    > Do I want one?
    > Nein!

    Do I want one?

    Nein. I want nine! (But not 9!)

  35. Tim G

    Oops! I just realized that I was thinking of triangular numbers when I was using the factorial (!) symbol.

    Substitute Tn for n!.

  36. Crudely Wrott

    That’s the miracle of analog devices. You needn’t know the delineations that the hands are passing, you only need to know their relative positions on the dial. That, plus knowing whether it is day or night, tells you the time at a glance.

    That’s why analog (needle) gauges are still predominant in race cars. They are in airplanes too. Even those with glass cockpits display critical indicators such as artificial horizon and rate of climb as digitally simulated analog instruments. They are simply more intuitive and can be understood at a glance even under demanding circumstances.

  37. Ronan Cunniffe

    1 = F((6+6)/6)
    2 = sqrt(F(6+6))/6
    3 = F(6+6 – F(6))
    4 = 6+6-F(6)
    5 = F(6-(6/6))
    6 = F(6) – F(6/6)
    7 = F(6) – F(6/6)
    8 = F(6) + (6-6)
    9 = F(6) + (6/6)
    10 = F(6) + F(6) – 6
    11 = F(6) + (F(F(6)) mod 6)
    12 = F(6+6)
    13 = F(6+(6/6))

    I started trying to finish Evolving Squid’s solution, but things rapidly multiplied out of control… 11 gave me serious paws for thought.


  38. Ronan Cunniffe

    Oops. Some of those got away…

    6 = sqrt(F(6+6))-6
    12 = F(6*6/6)


  39. chris H

    even though the answers to the equasions are all ready known, how most of those answers pan out I dont know

    all i can say when i see that language called math is WHAT THE?!?

  40. Phineas J. Whoopie

    Great fun, but seriously, people who own these should not be walking around unsupervised.

  41. Fergus Gallagher

    20 = floor(sqrt(sqrt(factorial(9))))-sqrt(9)-.9bar
    23 = floor(sqrt(sqrt(factorial(9)))) – 9/9

  42. Fergus Gallagher

    22 = floor(sqrt(sqrt(gamma(9)))) + 9 – .9bar

    I don’t think “gamma” and “floor” are cheating if “bar” and “factorial” are allowed :-)

  43. LUke

    Fergus already pointed this out on how 6.999 repeating does equal 7 but the equation here was a little easier for me to understand, so:

    n=0.9 repeating
    10n=9.9 repeating

    I’ve heard of this, but never seen the proof for it…interesting

  44. Ronan Cunniffe


    Write 1/3 as a decimal.
    Multiply by 3.
    Discuss. :-)


  45. Luk3

    1984 was a very well written book. George Orwell is amazing. Also what is that clock going by it make no sense.

  46. Lurchgs

    Co-worker had one. Loved it. Bought one for youngest LurchGS replacement’s birthday, and sent one to LurchGS’ immediate paternal progenitor for the end-of-year celebration.

    Sadly, overlooked ordering one for self. Oh well, I can always stop in Youngest’s room for a time check

  47. Mango

    I clicked though to the comments on this just to see if there might be a Holy War on the “0.999…. = 1” issue. I’m happy to see that there isn’t. Maybe because the readership here understands the implication of mathematical proof better than other places on the Internet.

  48. Shannon

    I want this clock so when you get the information you better tell me!

  49. Robert Carnegie

    My sister has a backwards clock. The hands run in reverse direction and I think all the figures are mirror images. Besides a good gimmick, it would suit in a traditional barber’s shop.

    I didn’t quite catch in a [30 Rock] episode where the girls were discussing these two guys they might date, one of the guys was shown explaining laboriously he has a watch he is real proud of, that shows the time in pie slices, I think he -may- have meant analogue style… don’t do it, lady! :-)

  50. Anotherplayaguy


    Thanks for the input, but I am confused by F(6) which seems to equal 8. Why is that?


  51. Joe Kraus

    What is the meaning of a time of day that is plus or minus 3:00 o’clock, or any of the other times that involve a square root. For example, the 4:00 spot could also be -2:00, since -3+1=-2.


  52. printzen

    A better representation of the number 7 using three nines is: 9/.9 – sqrt(9) = 7 exactly. This avoids any need for discussion about whether .9 recurring is or is not equivalent to 1 (at least in reference to the “3 nines clock”)

  53. j m rowland

    obscured by reflected light glare
    BAD geek, BAD geek!
    No cheeto for you!


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