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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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