Taiwanese miniature craftsman Chen Forng-shean (陳逢顯) has broken the Guinness World Record by making the world’s tiniest sundial from a grain of rice grown in Taiwan.
The French astronomical society had asked the French Office in Taipei to contact Chen and invite him to make a record-breaking sundial, which he completed after failing dozens of times.
The society provided Chen with information and photographs of the smallest sundial in the world — measuring 0.65cm by 0.5cm — that was created by an Italian in 1999.
Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times
After a careful assessment, Chen told the society that he had no problem making a smaller sundial.
He used a grain of a type of Taiwanese rice to make the sundial, which, at 0.5cm by 0.3cm, set a new record.
A sundial is a device that uses the position of the sun to tell the time of day. The basic structure consists of a flat surface and a gnomon, which casts a shadow onto the dial.
Photo courtesy of Chen Forng-shean’s workshop
The shadow moves on the surface as the position of the sun changes and its tip aligns with different lines drawn on the surface to indicate the time.
A gnomon can be made from a wooden bar, a metal wire or a decorative sculpture, Chen said.
Chen said that the secret of making a sundial out of a rice grain lies in securing the position of the grain during the process.
He used tools such as a steel needle and writing brush to write tiny Arabic numbers from 6 to 18, covering the period between sunrise and sunset.
Chen said that with the help of a magnifying glass, he wrote the numbers and drew lines on the sundial while holding his breath.
The spacing of each number had to be carefully arranged since the rice grain was so small, he added.
Chen said he found the work meaningful because it was an act of people-to-people diplomacy.
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