The New Clock: Stopping on a Smaller Dime


by Brandon Uhler (@RezBenzene)

News recently unveiled that we have a new clock. Big deal. But wait! It is a big deal. The world was blessed with the most accurate clock ever. Do you know what this means? Exactly. You now have no excuse to ever be late for anything ever again. But what’s even more significant is that this super accurate clock means that science is getting more and more precise.

The new clock is an atomic clock, which relies on the rate electrons move through a rare metal, most of the time it’s cesium, from an electromagnetic light source. Typical clocks rely on a pendulum, which leaves a lot of room for error in the variations in the clock’s ‘ticks.’ The fact that we have a clock that is super exact is not what is most exciting, it is the fact that the technology, (in this case the utilization of the element ytterbium) can be used for more than just time keeping. The fact that scientists were able to create such an exact instrument means that we can improve on our existing technology such as digital maps and GPS/navigational devices. Since these things rely on constants measurements and calibrations, having more precise, quick measurements will lead to faster, more reliable real-time information. Additionally, for those of us in the research field, you should be glad to know that errors that arise in measurements taken may be completely eradicated in the future. That’s right, no more standard deviations! (Not due to instrumentation anyways) The ability to use things like ytterbium to make more precise and exact measurements could create faster experiments and more reliable data for various research products.

What does this actually mean then? Well, the current most-accurate-atomic clock is optimized to its most accurate condition after about 5 days time. This new clock that was made can do the same optimal averaging in about 1 second. If this atomic clock technology can be transplanted into many other devices that rely on measurement, that means improved electronics for us! Imagine using a device that never has to load anything. Ever.

Side note: This wonderful clock was creates by scientists from the United States. Hooray for us! We’re still inventing stuff!

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