Ni neibian ji dian?

Here are some photos of a large, elaborate, and no-doubt expensive sundial outside the Nangang high-speed rail station (next door to the Nangang train station and Nangang MRT station).

These were taken at 11 a.m. (The one of the sundial itself was taken on a different day.) But as you can see below, the sundial certainly isn’t indicating the time is 11:00. Rather, it’s pointing toward 9:20 or so.

The disc labeled IX is actually XI (11). I took the photo from a reverse vantage point, so the number is upside down in the photo.

This vantage point puts the number upside down. So you should read this as XI, not IX.

Perhaps whoever erected the main part of the sundial doesn’t know Roman numerals. (Sorry: that’s about as close as this post gets to talking about scripts.) But that wouldn’t account for the dial indicating 9:20 instead of 9:00.

I contacted the Taipei City Government about this. They said to contact the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation, which I did. They, in turn, responded that I’d reached the wrong office and should write a different office; but they didn’t forward the message or provide me with the correct e-mail address. Once I’d tracked down another office I e-mailed the folk there. That was more than a week ago. There has been no response.

I spoke with someone at the site who appeared to be in a position of authority. He told me that the sundial hadn’t been adjusted yet and that they would get to it next year. He was too busy to answer any more questions though, such as “Next year?” Also, I suspect that it won’t be easy to rotate that huge thingamajig, so why didn’t they get it right the first time?

Still, at least someone in authority seems to understand there’s a problem.

*For anyone who doesn’t recognize the title of this post, it’s an allusion to the 2001 movie N? nèibi?n j? di?n (???????/ What Time Is It There?).

9 thoughts on “Ni neibian ji dian?

  1. Wouldn’t it better just to give stories like this to the local media? Surely it would make a good segment on the 24 hour news channels, thereby giving government officials some much needed encouragement to correct the error.

  2. It is not easy to make a sundial that is more accurate than 15 min (it will be off especially in November and February).
    Still, it looks like this one may as well just be a sculpture and forget about its time telling function

  3. Guys, this isn’t about 20 minutes off (which, as you note, is regular for sundials). It’s off by about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

    As for the local media, I don’t have much faith in their ability to get things right. But I suppose this story would be more clearcut than most.

  4. It reminds me of the row of clocks that you sometimes see in faux posh hotels — more often than not, when I would check New York, it would either be off by an hour (neglecting DST) or else just completely wrong. Looked nice, though.

  5. Shouldn’t a sundial show local time, as Matt said? That is, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky in midsummer, it will show 12 noon. At any other time of day, and at any other time of the year, it is going to be off by some amount. That’s in the nature of sundials. How far is Nangang from the meridian on which official time is based? Perhaps an hour and 40 minutes’ “error” is perfectly normal? Best not to use it for catching the THSR, when it starts running from there.

  6. The gnomon is back — with the time now off by more than 4 hours. This once again demonstrates Taiwan’s tendency to spend a lot of money on something, only to do a sloppy job, and then spend more money to fix that sloppy job and end up with a result that’s even worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>