News / Science & Technology

New Atomic Clock Could Be Accurate for 300 Million Years

NIST physicists Steve Jefferts (foreground) and Tom Heavner with the NIST-F2 “cesium fountain” atomic clock, a new civilian time standard for the United States.
NIST physicists Steve Jefferts (foreground) and Tom Heavner with the NIST-F2 “cesium fountain” atomic clock, a new civilian time standard for the United States.

Related Articles

Protein May Help People with Celiac Disease

Newly identified protein called elafin, tames an enzyme that plays a role in inflammation of small bowel caused by eating certain grains

Video NASA Scientists Testing New Aircraft Designs

By 2030, NASA would like to see planes that burn 60 to 70 percent less fuel, pollute less and are quieter

Video Tiny Microbes Are Next Big Thing in Farming

Scientists look to soil resources to help farmers produce more with less
VOA News
U.S. researchers have launched a new atomic clock they say will neither gain nor lose a second in 300 million years.
 
The clock, called NIST-F2, will serve “new U.S. civilian time and frequency standard,” researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Colorado said. The current standard has been set by NIST-F1 since 1999.
 
Both clocks use what researchers call a  "fountain" of cesium atoms to come up with a precise measurement of a second.
 
Since 1967, the second has been defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 oscillations of the microwave radiation absorbed or emitted when a cesium atom jumps between two particular energy states.
 
"If we've learned anything in the last 60 years of building atomic clocks, we've learned that every time we build a better clock, somebody comes up with a use for it that you couldn't have foreseen," says NIST physicist Steven Jefferts, lead designer of NIST-F2 in a statement.
 
Last year, French researchers said they’d also developed a similarly accurate clock.
 
While losing a second every 300 million years might not seem important in daily life, many technologies such as telecommunications, satellite navigation and stock markets depend on incredibly accurate timekeeping.
 
Highly precise timekeeping has been integral to the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) because of the high degree of synchronization required for satellites to triangulate a receiver’s location.
 
According to NIST, official time “is used to time-stamp hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. financial transactions each working day.” NIST also said that as of 2014, they had received 8 billion automated requests to synchronize clocks in computers via its Internet Time Service. NIST also broadcasts time updates to around 50 million watches and other clocks.
 
The new super-accurate clock could have implications for theoretical physics in that it could allow physicists to see if nature’s constants do really do remain constant over time. Also, Earth-observation satellites could be improved because they would allow more accurate tracking of sea-level rise.
 
Last year, NIST said it had developed an ion clock that is believed accurate to within one second every 3.7 billion years, but it is not yet considered stable enough to use and requires more testing.

Here's a video about the clock:
 

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pat Kelley from: USA
April 07, 2014 10:29 PM
Oh dear. Why do people decry basic science research when it has proven itself time and again? Have we all become enamored of WallStreets investment mentality of short sighted immediate return over long term investment? Basic science research is one of the most cost effective uses of time.


by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: KOBE, JPN
April 04, 2014 8:55 PM
What does it mean for our usually lives?
Developing one second delay for 300 million years means waste of time and money.
Please use your brain and money for more effective thing for human beings.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid