Atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeepers in the world, but a “nuclear clock” would be even better. An international team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, the University of Nevada, and Georgia Tech have propsed a new kind of atomic timekeeper that wouldn’t lose or gain 1/20th of a second in 14 billion years (that's roughly the age of the entire universe). It would be 100 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks we have right now, the researchers claim.
Unless you’re disputing the world record in the 100-meter dash or a buzzer-beater in basketball, a single second is generally not something worth arguing about. But today in Geneva, a single second will be the topic of intense debate as hundreds of delegates from more than 70 nations decide whether or not to kill the “leap second” at a meeting of the UN’s telecommunications agency.
The slightest whisper of warmth induces miscalculations in the world’s most precise atomic clock, researchers say. Accounting for this effect can make future clocks even more precise, eventually leading to atomic clocks that lose only one second every 32 billion years — about two and a half times the age of the universe itself.
Einstein first figured out that time moves at a different rate depending on how fast you’re moving, and depending on how close you are to a gravitational field. And scientists have already shown that time moves faster at higher elevations — clocks on a rocket move slower than clocks on Earth, for instance. By this logic, astronauts are actually time travelers.
When it comes to precision sensing, secure battlefield communications, and global positioning systems, DARPA knows what time it is. However, a lack of coordinated clocks is a hindrance on the battlefield and elsewhere. That’s why DARPA has put its feelers out for technology that could lead to portable atomic clocks that are miniature, ruggedized versions of the massive devices that keep standardized time in laboratories around the world.
The International Space Station is upgrading its timepiece. An atomic clock constructed by EADS Astrium will arrive at the ISS in 2014, providing the most accurate timekeeping to date in space, better synchronization of clocks on Earth, and the opportunity to learn a few things about time itself.
Reading a clock is one thing; really knowing the time is quite another. For everyday timekeeping needs, we use a standard known as Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, which is derived from International Atomic Time, a consensus of more than 200 clocks that keep precise time based on the movement of electrons.
In a decade, your wristwatch will be thousands of times as accurate as it is today
By Jonathon KeatsPosted 02.12.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Caltech Photonic Clock Technology
This watch's light-powered drive mechanism vibrates thousands of times as fast as quartz.
This optical clock technology, developed at the California Institute of Tech- nology, could make the most accurate watch available now seem as retrograde as a sundial. A laser pumps photons around the rim of a microscopic glass ring, causing it to swell and contract 80 million times per second.