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.
Conventional atomic clocks keep time by the orbit of an electron around an atom, using the electron as a sort of pendulum that ticks off units of time at highly regular intervals. But the new proposal calls for using lasers to orient the electrons in an atom in such a precise way that a clock could actually see beyond them to use a neutron orbiting the atom's nucleus as a timekeeper.
Neutrons are held so tightly to the nucleus (unlike electrons, which orbit at an atomic distance) that they are nearly completely immune from any kind of outside interference, whereas loosely bound electrons can be affected by external influences ever so slightly. In terms of atomic clocks, "ever so slightly" is actually a troublesome margin of error even if it is just small fractions of a second over extremely long periods of time. The newly proposed clock could help test physical and quantum theories with unprecedented accuracy by improving the precision of timekeeping by a couple of orders of magnitude.
you know at some point in time we are going to measure the exact time that the universe takes to go from one instant to another. i wonder what we'll find there. i wonder who we'll find there.
but until then we should continue to be more accurate; after all we live in a world where it has become okay for the straight and accurate truth to become "ever so slightly" changed to suite the needs of the time.
to mars or bust!
time is relative.
If all the ways of measuring time are so inferior, how can one know that what has been developed is so much superior? How can one know the new is "100 times" more accurate? If the standard by which one has measured a thing is regarded as inferior, then how can the measurement between the new and old be established? Seems like a dog chasing its tail. Is this not simply establishing a new norm which is regarded as more accurate? It is as Amun-Ra has stated, "Time is Relative."
Your logic is flawed. If you use an hourglass to measure the length of a day, every day will vary slighly, and you wont be able to accurately predict how many hourglass turns it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Your predictions will be more accurate if you use an atomic clock to measure how many units of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Accuracy of science is based on the accuracy of predictions, which is why we know time is relative. We predicted a phenomenon based foundationally on the principal that time is relative, and the prediction came true.
If you set a nuclear clock to the time of an atomic clock how many decades or centuries will it be before there is a one second difference in the clocks?
@ UncommonSense; Say you and I both build houses every day. If you live in the 10th century BC, and I live now, we both have very different ideas about just how much is possible in a day. My superior tools and equipment allow far more in a day than yours, even if you actually have a better instinctive grasp of our job than I do. The modern hammer IS far superior to the mallet. The sundial IS more accurate than measuring time based on the width of my hand placed in front of the sun. The spring-driven clock IS more accurate than that. The "atomic clock", or it's more ACCURATE name, hydrogen maser; IS far more accurate than the clock. Why don't you think that a further refinement of relative viewpoint is valid? Is it that you don't think the potential uses are valid? Is it some nostalgia thing? You DO know of course that you could make a fair living even today by putting solar or lunar clocks in peoples' yards? Or water clocks? None of the ways we measure time are distinct from the others. Because it's not the method by which we measure that is the point. The time is what we attempt to measure, which is an intangible. We will never stop our quest for the more accurate timepiece, simply because more can be done in a certain amount of time the more accurately we can gauge it's passage.