Home Uncategorized New ‘Cryogenic’ Clock Developed In Japan Accurate For 16 Billion Years

New ‘Cryogenic’ Clock Developed In Japan Accurate For 16 Billion Years

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Japanese researchers have developed a pair of time-keeping devices
that are so accurate, they’ll lose one second every 16 billion years,
so, more than three times the age of the Earth, and 3 billion years
older than the Universe itself. 

Created by physicists led by
Hidetoshi Katori from the Riken Research Institute, these ‘cryogenic
optical lattice clocks’ are so accurate, they beat the caesium atomic clocks that are currently being used to define what a ‘second’ is. In fact, atomic clocks – which measure time based on how electrons in caesium atoms ‘jump’ at certain frequencies of radiation – tend to carry a one-second error every 30 million years.
According to Nicole Arce at Tech Times,
the clocks work by using lasers to trap strontium atoms in grid-like,
one-dimensional ‘egg tray’ structures, “which use what Katori calls the
‘magic wavelength’, so that the lattice does not affect the atoms during
measurement”, she says. The frequency of the strontium atom vibrations is then used as a measurement of the passing time.
To ensure that even the slightest increase in temperature or the
movements of surrounding electromagnetic waves doesn’t mess with the
delicate measurements, the laser lattices have to be cooled to -180
degrees Celsius, and the inner copper surface is coated in black to
suppress any tiny reflections of light.
After 11 measurements performed over a month, the team reports in Nature Photonics that they recorded a statistical agreement between the two cryoclocks of 2.0 × 10−18,
which they equate to a one-second error every 16 billion
years. “Through improved precision, we hold high hopes for accelerated
discussions on redefinition of the ‘second’,” they said.

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What
do these new clocks mean for us regular folks? Right now, our power
grids, GPS technologies, and the clocks on our computers and smartphones
are all synced up to how caesium atomic clocks are keeping time. 
While
the clocks on our computers being a mere fraction of a second out over
millions of years isn’t exactly going to affect our lives, that tiny
discrepancy can make things difficult when trying to pinpoint an exact
location via GPS, and it can affect how accurate our measurements are
when it comes to things like predicting earthquakes, says Nicole Arce at Tech Times.
“If
we can miniaturise the technology even further, it would have useful
applications since tiny fluctuations in gravitational potential could be
used to detect underground resources, underground spaces, and the
movement of lava,” Katori told her.
Source: Tech Times

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