There’s a secret group of nutrients that help keep energy levels high for your runs: B vitamins. There are eight types of B vitamins, and the more active you are, the more your body needs, as exercise uses up your supply. A study by Oregon State University found that athletes require higher levels of B vitamins to maintain lean tissue mass and, when levels are low, performance and the ability to repair and build muscle post-exercise are both hindered.
Each of these eight micronutrients plays a specific role in the body. Sticking to a varied and healthy diet will ensure you receive adequate levels.
Thiamine converts carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy. It also maintains the functioning of the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. Thiamine is found in eggs, so poach a couple and eat them with a slice of wholemeal toast.
This macronutrient metabolises fat, carbohydrates and protein and helps maintain cellular processes. You can easily get your riboflavin fix by nibbling on a handful of almonds.
Niacin is crucial for energy metabolism within cells, plus it helps to produce stress and sex hormones and removes toxins. Products made with wheat flour such as wholemeal bread are rich in niacin: mash a banana on wholemeal toast for an energy-revving snack.
B5 (PANTOTHENIC ACID)
Vitamin B5 helps to metabolise carbohydrates and proteins. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin B5 and, when cooked, they’re even more nutrient-rich. So grill some cherry tomatoes and add them to a salad.
Vitamin B6 enables the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrate and also helps to make haemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body. Poultry, such as chicken, are high in pyridoxine, so grill one breast fillet and serve with dark green leafy vegetables.
Biotin helps keep cells healthy, contributing to strong nails and hair. It also regulates blood sugar levels and metabolises fats. Biotin can be found in broccoli. Steam some florets and throw them into salads.
B9 (FOLIC ACID)
Folic acid helps the body synthesise new cells and can help prevent birth defects of the foetal brain and spine. Eat dark green leafy veg such as kale and spinach; add a portion as a side accompaniment to meals.
Vitamin B12 produces red blood cells and helps maintain the nervous system. It’s found in dairy and red meat, as well as in fortified foods such as plant milks and cereals. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include pins and needles and a burning sensation in the feet.
The air is getting more dangerous to breathe all over the world — and a suite of companies are hoping to capitalize with a new fashion item.
Last fall, two different wildfires destroyed huge swaths of California. The Camp Fire in Northern California covered 153,336 acres, destroyed nearly 20,000 structures, and killed 85 people; it also left a shroud of smoke and ash hovering over the area. Public schools in five Bay Area counties were closed, and residents were warned to stay inside and protect their lungs from the dangerous air quality. Stores for miles around sold out of everything from surgical masks to the recommended N95 painter’s masks — the only kind that can effectively filter 95 percent of the tiny particles that do the most damage to your lungs.
Walking around the Bay Area in the weeks following the Camp Fire felt like living in a dystopian future — the sky a matte grey, the sun a red, alien-like orb, the streets empty save a handful of souls, nearly all wearing painter’s masks or bandannas or scarves over their mouths. Those two weeks might have been not just a dark blip, but rather a glimpse into our collective future. And there are entrepreneurs poised to capitalize on it. Because in the tomorrow that the Camp Fire portends, we’re all going to need a good face mask.
And then there’s the dust. All around the world, deserts are expanding. “The desert is creeping and nobody is noticing,” says Sumant Nigam, who recently published a study that found that the Sahara has expanded by 10 percent over the past century, largely due to climate change. “And eventually, it will swallow you.”
The Sahara isn’t the only desert that’s been creeping. The Gobi Desert in China has been expanding by almost 10 miles every year. The Kalahari Desert in southern Africa is growing, as is the Maowusu Desert in China, and the Great Sandy Desert in Australia. The southwestern US is seeing drier conditions and a creeping desert landscape. And climate models suggest that at our current rate of climate change, deserts could expand by 34 percent globally. That’s 5.2 million square miles.
With increased desertification comes an increased risk of dust-borne diseases. Dust storms have been linked to outbreaks of valley fever, whooping cough, Kawasaki disease, and meningitis.
But what is the average person supposed to do when the air around them is no longer safe to breathe? “It’s just impractical to tell people: ‘Don’t go outside. Don’t breathe,’” says Morgan Gorris, a PhD candidate at UC Irvine who researches valley fever and dust storms.
Enter the face mask, an accessory ripe for the market in these dystopian times. People who live in desert areas have long known to cover their mouths and protect their lungs from dust. But in the past few years, a handful of companies have started making air filtration masks engineered specifically for both fashion and function. In California, a company called Vogmask has all but cornered the market with its brightly colored designs. And abroad, companies like Airpop and Respro are entering the fold, hoping to provide an attractive alternative to the standard white painter’s mask. But how does a new accessory category take off — especially one that covers a good portion of a wearer’s face?
Some parts of the world already have a huge head start here. People in Korea, Japan, and parts of China regularly wear what are often called “courtesy masks” — surgical masks worn to prevent their germs from infecting others. “It’s considered a polite thing to wear if you’re sick,” says Christina Xu, a researcher who studies cultural trends in the US and China. Xu points out that the density of the urban environments in these countries likely contributes to the masks’ popularity. “You’re protecting yourself from this hyper-dense, hyper-concentrated urban environment, and frankly, there are just way more of those places in China and Japan and Korea, and in Asia in general, than there are in the US, where we tend to be a little bit more spread out except for on the coasts.”
Airpop, a Chinese company that makes face masks, is trying to change that. Founded by Chris Hosmer, the company set out not only to make a high-quality mask but to fix a design problem they identified with the masks already on the market. “They made a mask that actually fits on East Asian faces, because the other masks are designed for Caucasian faces and often don’t actually seal properly,” says Xu. Hosmer explains that most mask-making companies in China simply import all their parameters from the United States, using headforms based on Western faces.
And a poor fit in this case isn’t just annoying — if a protective air mask doesn’t fit just right, it’s almost counterproductive. Due to physics, any gap in the seal acts like a straw, sucking the harmful particles directly into your mouth.
To fix this, Hosmer and his team partnered with a researcher at Hong Kong Polytechnic University that was already doing a big facial biometrics scanning project, and used that data to create a mask that actually fit the average East Asian face. In China, the masks are approved by the China Occupational Safety & Health Association all the way down to PM0.3, almost 10 times smaller than the standard PM2.5 masks. But when Airpop sent the mask to the United States for third-party testing, the team saw strange results. What they finally realized was that for the “fit” part of the test, where real people wear the mask and perform various tasks, American labs were using almost exclusively Caucasians. Eventually, they decided to simply forgo American certifications and focus on the Chinese market.
Today, Airpop masks are sold all over China as well as online for $50. They come in a variety of colors and look more like a fancy Nike shoe than a surgeon’s protective covering. And Airpop is not alone. A company called Freka sells stylish masks for more than $100 apiece. Lifestyle bloggers in places like China and India even review masks as fashion items.
Shilpa Gandotra, an Indian woman who writes a blog called Our External World, told me she still wears the Vogmask she reviewed in 2016. “Diwali time in India is the height of pollution, so that is one time frame where the mask is essential,” she told me. “I literally carry this mask in my purse so that whenever I need it, I can wear it and save myself from bad-quality air.” But in the United States, there might be more of a hurdle to get people to wear masks in the first place.
During the Camp Fire, Vogmask, a local Northern California company (which sells its masks for $33 to $44 each), found itself inundated with orders — co-founder Wendover Brown told me that their sales increased to 10 times their normal level. But Vogmask has been selling its colorful air filtration masks since 2011, after one fateful day at Burning Man. “When we first conjured the idea, we were wearing bandanas to protect ourselves from the dust,” says Marc Brown, Wendover’s son and co-founder. “And other people were wearing white painter’s masks, and it occurred to me to make real dust masks that looked as nice as bandanas.”
In those early days, Vogmask had little competition from American manufacturers. “We were able to try whatever we wanted for a while. People bought whatever we made,” Marc says. He experimented with putting glitch-inspired images on the masks, along with artwork like Mondrian and the work of Dada artists. “It didn’t matter what we did because we sold out of everything anyway.”
But they soon learned that people didn’t necessarily want bold, bright, and eye-catching designs. And Marc refined a set of design rules that work for the company: no faces (“it just looks really creepy and it turns it into a Halloween thing”), no polka dots (“it makes someone look like they have a disease or outbreak on their face”), and nothing scary (“our ethos is trying to make people happy”).
Today, Wendover says the company’s best-selling masks are still the less flashy ones — a mask called Hero, made up of a series of black and gray triangles, consistently outperforms all the rest. “It’s less threatening than a solid black mass and yet is super professional-looking.” She also told me they can see some cultural trends in what sells best where. “In China, we had a lot of success with animal patterns, the blue and pink panda designs. In the US, that doesn’t sell well at all.”
These masks are still niche in the United States. Right now, Vogmask is working to update its packaging, to signal that its products are something permanent and more luxurious. “We’re going to make a more high-quality box,” says Marc, “and we’re going to improve the materials of the product itself so that it feels like a more expensive item that you invest in.” They hope that with a good enough design, they can convince even American customers these masks are worth the money.
And there’s an accessory these brands can look to as a historical example. “If sunglasses didn’t exist today and you were going to pitch an investor on sunglasses, you would sound insane,” Hosmer says. “‘Hey, we’re gonna put this thing that covers, like, the window to your soul, the most communicative part of your body; we’re gonna put something in front of it so that you can’t see it, and that thing is gonna essentially be able to protect you from your environment.’ They would be like, ‘What? That’s stupid. No one’s gonna do that!’” Masks are no different, he says.
Xu also pointed to sunglasses when I asked her about the issues Americans might have with covering up their faces. “I’m not actually someone who likes to wear sunglasses,” she said. “And I’m struck by how common it is for people to cover up one of the more expressive parts of their face all the time.” How different are masks, really?
Taking sunglasses as precedent could also reveal how the adoption of masks might play out. “Designer sunglasses went from being something that was very luxury menswear to luxury womenswear,” Xu says. Eventually, sunglasses branched out into all kinds of forms: sleek, bedazzled, futuristic, bright, athletic. “All of those are still sunglasses and still fashionable, just in very different ways of expressing who the wearer is.” And, like sunglasses, some masks will be cheap and not really work to protect you, while others will be expensive, luxurious items that you keep for years.
The near-future of this accessory could depend on who picks up the object first. Xu says she could see it going a few ways: It could be adopted by streetwear fans (Supreme already sells a face mask, although it doesn’t seem to actually do much in the way of safety or filtration) or by users who prefer the Burning Man aesthetic. Or perhaps the wellness world adopts these masks, in which case the product design would look quite different. “The other direction might be the sort of Lululemon-ification of the masks, if they’re treated as these essential wellness objects and they enter the world of performance fabrics and athleisure and athletic wear,” Xu says. Think Goop or Fabletics, but for face masks.
It’s possible that the biggest challenge facing face masks isn’t the fashion at all, but rather convincing people they’re necessary. In some countries, air pollution is a hot-button political issue as well as a health problem. China, for example, spent years denying it had an air pollution problem at all, attempting to convince its citizens to disbelieve their eyes and lungs. Despite a decade of visible air pollution in cities like Beijing, China only declared an air quality “Red Alert,” signaling that the air quality was particularly hazardous for more than three days in a row, for the first time in 2015.
Hosmer thinks the longer-term future of air masks is higher-tech that today’s filtration devices. “It’s definitely a little Black Mirror-ish and ‘the apocalypse is nigh’-ish, but sensors are getting cheap enough and high enough fidelity that imagining products that read and report environmental health in real time is not crazy anymore,” he says. In the future, these masks may be outfitted with tiny sensors that detect everything from hazardous chemicals to the electric fields nearby. And with all that additional data, Hosmer thinks people will better understand the kinds of risks our environment might pose. “So there will gradually be a familiarity with, if not an acceptance of, knowing what the invisible threats to your and your family’s health and well-being are.”
In the future, we’ll know a lot more about what we’re breathing. That fact alone might usher in the era of the mask.
If there’s one thing I know about love, it’s that people who don’t find it have shorter life spans on average. Which means learning how the Tinder algorithm works is a matter of life and death, extrapolating slightly.
According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans now consider dating apps a good way to meet someone; the previous stigma is gone. But in February 2016, at the time of Pew’s survey, only 15 percent of American adults had actually used a dating app, which means acceptance of the tech and willingness to use the tech are disparate issues. On top of that, only 5 percent of people in marriages or committed relationships said their relationships began in an app. Which raises the question: Globally, more than 57 million people use Tinder — the biggest dating app — but do they know what they’re doing?
They do not have to answer, as we’re all doing our best. But if some information about how the Tinder algorithm works and what anyone of us can do to find love within its confines is helpful to them, then so be it.
The first step is to understand that Tinder is sorting its users with a fairly simple algorithm that can’t consider very many factors beyond appearance and location. The second step is to understand that this doesn’t mean that you’re doomed, as years of scientific research have confirmed attraction and romance as unchanging facts of human brain chemistry. The third is to take my advice, which is to listen to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher and never pursue more than nine dating app profiles at once. Here we go.
THE TINDER ALGORITHM BASICS
A few years ago, Tinder let Fast Company reporter Austin Carr look at his “secret internal Tinder rating,” and vaguely explained to him how the system worked. Essentially, the app used an Elo rating system, which is the same method used to calculate the skill levels of chess players: You rose in the ranks based on how many people swiped right on (“liked”) you, but that was weighted based on who the swiper was. The more right swipes that person had, the more their right swipe on you meant for your score.
Tinder would then serve people with similar scores to each other more often, assuming that people whom the crowd had similar opinions of would be in approximately the same tier of what they called “desirability.” (Tinder hasn’t revealed the intricacies of its points system, but in chess, a newbie usually has a score of around 800 and a top-tier expert has anything from 2,400 up.) (Also, Tinder declined to comment for this story.)
In March 2019, Tinder published a blog post explaining that this Elo score was “old news” and outdated, paling in comparison to its new “cutting-edge technology.” What that technology is exactly is explained only in broad terms, but it sounds like the Elo score evolved once Tinder had enough users with enough user history to predict who would like whom, based solely on the ways users select many of the same profiles as other users who are similar to them, and the way one user’s behavior can predict another’s, without ranking people in an explicitly competitive way. (This is very similar to the process Hinge uses, explained further down, and maybe not a coincidence that Tinder’s parent company, Match, acquired Hinge in February 2019.)
But it’s hard to deny that the process still depends a lot on physical appearance. The app is constantly updated to allow people to put more photos on their profile, and to make photos display larger in the interface, and there is no real incentive to add much personal information. Most users keep bios brief, and some take advantage of Spotify and Instagram integrations that let them add more context without actually putting in any additional information themselves.
The algorithm accounts for other factors — primarily location and age preferences, the only biographical information that’s actually required for a Tinder profile. At this point, as the company outlined, it can pair people based on their past swiping, e.g., if I swiped right on a bunch of people who were all also swiped right on by some other group of women, maybe I would like a few of the other people that those women saw and liked. Still, appearance is a big piece.
As you get closer and closer to the end of the reasonable selection of individuals in any dating app, the algorithm will start to recycle people you didn’t like the first time. It will also, I know from personal experience, recycle people you have matched with and then unmatched later, or even people you have exchanged phone numbers with and then unmatched after a handful of truly “whatever” dates. Nick Saretzky, director of product at OkCupid, told me and Ashley Carman about this practice on the Verge podcast Why’d You Push That Button in October 2017. He explained:
Hypothetically, if you were to swipe on enough thousands of people, you could go through everyone. [You’re] going through people one at a time … you’re talking about a line of people and we put the best options up front. It actually means that every time you swipe, the next choice should be a little bit worse of an option.
So, the longer you’re on an app, the worse the options get. You’ll see Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, we all do recycling. If you’ve passed on someone, eventually, someone you’ve said “no” to is a much better option than someone who’s 1,000 or 10,000 people down the line.
Maybe you really did swipe left by accident the first time, in which case profile recycling is just an example of an unfeeling corporation doing something good by accident, by granting you the rare chance at a do-over in this life.
Or maybe you have truly run out of options and this will be a sort of uncomfortable way to find out — particularly unnerving because the faces of Tinder tend to blur together, and your mind can easily play tricks on you. Have I seen this brown-haired Matt before? Do I recognize that beachside cliff pic?
Don’t despair, even though it’s tempting and would obviously make sense.
THE SECRET RULES OF SUPER LIKES AND OVER-SWIPING
One of the more controversial Tinder features is the Super Like. Instead of just swiping right to quietly like someone — which they’ll only discover if they also swipe right on you — you swipe up to loudly like someone. When they see your profile, it will have a big blue star on it so they know you already like them and that if they swipe right, you’ll immediately match.
You get one per day for free, which you’re supposed to use on someone whose profile really stands out. Tinder Plus ($9.99 a month) and Tinder Gold ($14.99 a month) users get five per day, and you can also buy extra Super Likes à la carte, for $1 each.
Tinder says that Super Likes triple your chances of getting a match, because they’re flattering and express enthusiasm. There’s no way to know if that’s true. What we do know is that when you Super Like someone, Tinder has to set the algorithm aside for a minute. It’s obligated to push your card closer to the top of the pile of the person you Super Liked — because you’re not going to keep spending money on Super Likes if they never work — and guarantee that they see it. This doesn’t mean that you’ll get a match, but it does mean that a person who has a higher “desirability” score will be provided with the very basic information that you exist.
We can also guess that the algorithm rewards pickiness and disincentivizes people to swipe right too much. You’re limited to 100 right swipes per day in Tinder, to make sure you’re actually looking at profiles and not just spamming everyone to rack up random matches. Tinder obviously cares about making matches, but it cares more about the app feeling useful and the matches feeling real — as in, resulting in conversation and, eventually, dates. It tracks when users exchange phone numbers and can pretty much tell which accounts are being used to make real-life connections and which are used to boost the ego of an over-swiper. If you get too swipe-happy, you may notice your number of matches goes down, as Tinder serves your profile to fewer other users.
I don’t think you can get in trouble for one of my favorite pastimes, which is lightly tricking my Tinder location to figure out which boys from my high school would date me now. But maybe! (Quick tip: If you visit your hometown, don’t do any swiping while you’re there, but log in when you’re back to your normal location — whoever right-swiped you during your visit should show up. Left-swipers or non-swipers won’t because the app’s no longer pulling from that location.)
There are a lot of conspiracy theories about Tinder “crippling” the standard, free version of the app and making it basically unusable unless you pay for a premium account or add-ons, like extra Super Likes and Boosts (the option to serve your profile to an increased number of people in your area for a limited amount of time). There is also, unfortunately, a subreddit specifically for discussing the challenges of Tinder, in which guys write things like, “The trick: for every girl you like, reject 5 girls.” And, “I installed tinder 6 days ago, ZERO matches and trust me, im not ugly, im not fucking brad pitt but what the fuck?? anyways i installed a new account with a random guy from instagram, muscular and beautiful, still ZERO matches …”
I can’t speak to whether Tinder is actually stacking the deck against these men, but I will point out that some reports put the ratio at 62-38 men to women on the app. And that ratio changes based on geography — your match rate depends a lot on your local population dynamics.
HOW THE OTHER SWIPING APPS AND ALGORITHMS ARE DIFFERENT (EVEN THOUGH TINDER’S IS THE BEST)
Of course, Tinder’s not the only dating app, and others have their own mathematical systems for pairing people off.
Hinge — the “relationship app” with profiles more robust than Tinder’s but far less detailed than something like OkCupid or eHarmony — claims to use a special type of machine learning to predict your taste and serve you a daily “Most Compatible” option. It supposedly uses the Gale-Shapley algorithm, which was created in 1962 by two economists who wanted to prove that any pool of people could be sifted into stable marriages. But Hinge mostly just looks for patterns in who its users have liked or rejected, then compares those patterns to the patterns of other users. Not so different from Tinder. Bumble, the swiping app that only lets women message first, is very close-lipped about its algorithm, possibly because it’s also very similar to Tinder.
The League — an exclusive dating app that requires you to apply using your LinkedIn — shows profiles to more people depending on how well their profile fits the most popular preferences. The people who like you are arranged into a “heart queue,” in order of how likely the algorithm thinks it is that you will like them back. In that way, this algorithm is also similar to Tinder’s. To jump to the front of the line, League users can make a Power Move, which is comparable to a Super Like.
None of the swiping apps purport to be as scientific as the original online dating services, like Match, eHarmony, or OkCupid, which require in-depth profiles and ask users to answer questions about religion, sex, politics, lifestyle choices, and other highly personal topics. This can make Tinder and its ilk read as insufficient hot-or-not-style apps, but it’s useful to remember that there’s no proof that a more complicated matchmaking algorithm is a better one. In fact, there’s a lot of proofthat it’s not.
Sociologist Kevin Lewis told JStor in 2016, “OkCupid prides itself on its algorithm, but the site basically has no clue whether a higher match percentage actually correlates with relationship success … none of these sites really has any idea what they’re doing — otherwise they’d have a monopoly on the market.”
In a (pre-Tinder) 2012 study, a team of researchers led by Northwestern University’s Eli J. Finkel examined whether dating apps were living up to their core promises. First, they found that dating apps do fulfill their promise to give you access to more people than you would meet in your everyday life. Second, they found that dating apps in some way make it easier to communicate with those people. And third, they found that none of the dating apps could actually do a better job matching people than the randomness of the universe could. The paper is decidedly pro-dating app, and the authors write that online dating “has enormous potential to ameliorate what is for many people a time-consuming and often frustrating activity.” But algorithms? That’s not the useful part.
This study, if I may say, is very beautiful. In arguing that no algorithm could ever predict the success of a relationship, the authors point out that the entire body of research on intimate relationships “suggests that there are inherent limits to how well the success of a relationship between two individuals can be predicted in advance of their awareness of each other.” That’s because, they write, the strongest predictors of whether a relationship will last come from “the way they respond to unpredictable and uncontrollable events that have not yet happened.” The chaos of life! It bends us all in strange ways! Hopefully toward each other — to kiss! (Forever!)
The authors conclude: “The best-established predictors of how a romantic relationship will develop can be known only after the relationship begins.” Oh, my god, and happy Valentine’s Day.
Later, in a 2015 opinion piece for the New York Times, Finkel argued that Tinder’s superficiality actually made it better than all the other so-called matchmaking apps.
“Yes, Tinder is superficial,” he writes. “It doesn’t let people browse profiles to find compatible partners, and it doesn’t claim to possess an algorithm that can find your soul mate. But this approach is at least honest and avoids the errors committed by more traditional approaches to online dating.”
Superficiality, he argues, is the best thing about Tinder. It makes the process of matching and talking and meeting move along much faster, and is, in that way, a lot like a meet-cute in the post office or at a bar. It’s not making promises it can’t keep.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?
At a debate I attended last February, Helen Fisher — a senior research fellow in biological anthropology at the Kinsey Institute and the chief scientific adviser for Match.com, which is owned by the same parent company as Tinder — argued that dating apps can do nothing to change the basic brain chemistry of romance. It’s pointless to argue whether an algorithm can make for better matches and relationships, she claimed.
“The biggest problem is cognitive overload,” she said. “The brain is not well built to choose between hundreds or thousands of alternatives.” She recommended that anyone using a dating app should stop swiping as soon as they have nine matches — the highest number of choices our brain is equipped to deal with at one time.
Once you sift through those and winnow out the duds, you should be left with a few solid options. If not, go back to swiping but stop again at nine. Nine is the magic number! Do not forget about this! You will drive yourself batty if you, like a friend of mine who will go unnamed, allow yourself to rack up 622 Tinder matches.
To sum up: Don’t over-swipe (only swipe if you’re really interested), don’t keep going once you have a reasonable number of options to start messaging, and don’t worry too much about your “desirability” rating other than by doing the best you can to have a full, informative profile with lots of clear photos. Don’t count too much on Super Likes, because they’re mostly a moneymaking endeavor. Do take a lap and try out a different app if you start seeing recycled profiles. Please remember that there is no such thing as good relationship advice, and even though Tinder’s algorithm literally understands love as a zero-sum game, science still says it’s unpredictable.
Update March 18, 2019: This article was updated to add information from a Tinder blog post, explaining that its algorithm was no longer reliant on an Elo scoring system.
Old clocks and watches are fascinating even without knowing how they work, but just a simple explanation provides a much deeper appreciation. The timekeeping function of mechanical timekeepers can be explained as just five elements:
1. Energy source
All machines, including timekeepers, need energy to work. The energy is usually stored in a weight or spring. When it is wound, energy is transferred from our muscles and into the driving weight (as it moves up against the force of gravity) or the mainspring (as it tightens up). This energy is released into the timekeeper as the weight drops or the mainspring unwinds.
Musical chamber clock by Nicholas Vallin with 3 driving weights and 3 counterweights (needed to stop the rope from slipping), London, 1598.
An interconnected series of toothed wheels and pinions, known as a train, transmits the energy through the timekeeper. The energy source moves slowly and the wheel at the furthest end of the train moves quickly. This is the opposite of a car gearbox, where the engine revs quickly and the wheels on the road rotate more slowly.
The escapement is connected to the quickly moving end of the train of wheels. Like a turnstile which allows one spectator through at a time, the escapement allows one wheel tooth to pass through (or ‘escape’) at a time. Without it, the wheels would whiz until the weight hit the floor. The ticking of a timekeeper is the sound of the escapement stopping a wheel tooth.
The controller is connected to the escapement – it controls the rate at which it allows the teeth to pass through. As each tooth passes the escapement, it gives the controller a little push to keep it going. A common controller is a pendulum, which is just a hanging weight – give it a push and gravity makes it swing, at a steady rate. Because gravity is essentially constant, pendulums are great for good timekeeping.
This is the part of the timekeeper that tells us the time, usually hands on a dial. A clock striking a bell gives an aural indication of time – sometimes from many miles away.
Gilt-brass cased clock-watch with alarm by Hans Schniep. It has a single (hour) hand as a minute hand would be superfluous as the watch was only accurate to about 15 minutes a day. Speyer, Germany, c. 1590–1610.
These five elements apply to (almost!) all mechanical timekeepers from the most ancient to the modern. They can vary wildly, but are there if you look! Here’s a handy video that takes you through these elements on a Swiss clock in the Museum’s collection:
…and if you happen to have taken a clock apart, here’s another handy guide on how to put it back together!
You can count on Zara for a lot of things—low prices, last-minute pick-me-ups, and, weirdly, that perfect dress for £70. For our next dressing-room-diaries series in which my @DevilsWearZara co-founder, Mimi, and I head into Zara in both L.A. and New York to try on the newest product, we decided to focus on dresses. And I’m talking pretty ones.
Normally, we only show you the pictures of the items we ended up buying (or at least adding to our immediate wish lists), but this time, we decided to be a little more candid. Ahead, you’ll see a slew of dressing-room pictures featuring the pretty Zara dresses we loved, kind of loved and even hated a little. Now, the dresses we chose to try on are all ones we think are cute; some of them just didn’t look right on us. That’s what dressing rooms are for, no? Either way, we’re here to officially let you know that the dress section at Zara is on fire right now, whether you agree with our reviews below or not.