Sand Clock and The Concept of Time in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

  • Waria O. Amin Cihan University-Erbil, Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.
Keywords: Sand clock, Einstein's theory, Minkowski, Time


The sand clock is a device used to measure time, consisting of two conical glass bulbs, which are connected vertically by a small opening neck. The top contains grains of fine dry sand. The upper part symbolizes the future,   sand passes through the neck (which indicates present) to the lower part which turned past. In 1907, German scientist Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909) interpreted the concept of the four-dimensional space-time of Einstein's theory in a two-dimensional cone diagram, in which the upper cone symbolizes the future, the neck the present and the lower part the past.  The researcher has noticed a great likeness, to the point of congruence between the shape and function of both, the sand clock and the diagram. This resemblance aroused speculations that Hermann Minkowski had been inspired by the sand hour in drawing his diagram. It cannot be attributed to a merely chance.


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T. Anthony, Of Time and Measurement: Studies in the History of Horology and Fine Technology. New York: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1993.

A. Einstein, Relativity: The Special and General Theory (Translation 1920), New York: H. Holt and Company, 1916.

P. L. Galison, Minkowski's Space -Time: from visual thinking to the absolute world. Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.

How to Cite
Amin W. Sand Clock and The Concept of Time in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. cuesj [Internet]. 20Jun.2021 [cited 26Jul.2021];5(1):34-5. Available from:
Research Article