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Hipp chronoscope, Neuchâtel, Switzerland,1893-1900

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Short intervals of time to within one thousandth of a second were measured using this device. It was made by Matthias Hipp (1813-1893) of Neuchatel, Switzerland. Hipp chronoscopes are seen on the left. They were originally used in military research experiments to measure the speed of projectiles. However, they became popular with the arrival of experimental psychology laboratories in the late 1800s. Chronoscopes were used in these labs to determine the speed of thought. The device’s timekeeping element is a metal reed rather than a pendulum. It vibrates 1000 times per second. The clockwork is kept in continuous motion when in use and the indicating mechanism is started and stopped by electromagnets. This chronoscope was used by the psychology department at Bedford College, University of London from 1923 to 1969.

Object number:

1996-277/23

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Glossary:

Glossary: measurement

Measurement is the process of estimating the magnitude of some attribute of an object, such as its length or weight, relative to some standard (unit of measurement), such as a meter or a kilogram. The act of measuring usually involves using a measuring instrument, such as a ruler, weighing scale, thermometer or speedometer which is calibrated to compare the measured attribute to a measurement unit. Metrology is the scientific study of measurement.

Glossary: chronoscope

Electronic device for measuring extremely short intervals of time with great accuracy, such as for determining the velocity of projectiles.

Glossary: psychology

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