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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs