Your smartphone is probably losing track of time. Most electronics with internal clocks keep them regulated via vibrating crystals (much like a quartz clock) that keep their timekeeping precise. But while far better timekeepers than mechanical clocks, even these crystals can be thrown off their regular frequencies by external factors like humidity or temperature.
As the calendar turns over to a new year, a couple of researchers over at Johns Hopkins University are rethinking the way we tick off the days during our annual trip around the sun. The duo has devised a new yearly calendar in which each 12-month period is identical to the one before--meaning if your birthday is on a Monday one year, it’s on a Monday every year--until the end of time.
Soon, when you sleep through your Monday morning alarm, it may be Uncle Sam’s fault. Federal officials are considering an experiment on the nation’s electrical grid that could interrupt the way your appliances tell time — from your bedside alarm to your automatic coffeemaker.
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.
A genetic research robot has helped scientists discover a new molecule, dubbed "longdaysin," that has potent effects on the biological clock, potentially leading to new treatments for jet lag and a suite of sleep disorders.
The new compound lengthened the biological clocks of larval zebrafish by more than 10 hours, scientists say.
I am interested in having a clock that looks like a stealth fighter or Batmobile, all sharp craggy black angles. One that also displays the time by bouncing a single red laser beam off sixty intricately positioned, rotating mirrors. Art Lebedev, the Russian design crazies who gave us the Optimus keyboard, have obliged.
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.
By Dave Prochnow
Posted 12.01.2009 at 5:45 pm 6 Comments
Throw out your old wall clock. You’ll be bored with it the moment you’re finished assembling your own persistence-of-vision (POV) clock. Projects based on POV—the phenomenon by which your eye very briefly continues to see an image after it has disappeared—use a moving display to show what looks like a static image. But instead of featuring only a single fixed message, this model shows you the current time on a continuously updated rotating display.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.