News / Science & Technology

Optical Clock Could Redefine Time

FILE - Fireworks explode over Elizabeth Tower housing the Big Ben clock to celebrate the New Year. The successful testing of a hyper-accurate clock could bring developments in physics and other areas of science.
FILE - Fireworks explode over Elizabeth Tower housing the Big Ben clock to celebrate the New Year. The successful testing of a hyper-accurate clock could bring developments in physics and other areas of science.

Related Articles

Blood Test Could Predict Longevity

Researchers carried out metabolic profiling of blood samples giving by more than 6,000 identical twins

Evidence of Early Agriculture Found in Iran

Researchers discover signs of agriculture in northern Iran dating back to the end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago
VOA News
The second, as we know it, may soon be a thing of the past as a measurement of time.

French physicists have successfully tested two optical lattice clocks, which would lose just one second every 300 million years. The clocks are so accurate, they could lead to a new definition of a second.

Optical lattice clocks, which have been around for about a decade, could one day replace the atomic clocks, which have been the standard for decades. Atomic clocks work by measuring the vibration of cesium atoms exposed to microwaves.

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. Atomic clocks are accurate to one second every 100 million years.

The two new optical lattice clocks are being tested at the Paris Observatory. The Observatory’s Dr. Jerome Lodewyck says the new clocks use the element strontium instead of cesium and laser beams instead of microwaves.

Both atomic and optical lattice clocks can be compared to a grandfather clock, which uses the swing of a pendulum to measure intervals of time. The “swing” of an atomic clock’s cesium pendulum occurs trillions of times every second. An optical lattice clock strontium oscillations are 40,000 faster.

That allows the division of intervals into smaller, more precise units, giving the optical lattice clock an accuracy of one second every 300 million years. 

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.

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.

But despite the new optical lattice clocks’ accuracy, they may not be the final answer. The U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Colorado has 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.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid