According to German scientists, the era of atomic clocks is coming to an end – researchers finally managed to find a way to use an optical clock to determine the time with unsurpassed accuracy.
At the heart of any device for measuring time is a recurring event with a constant frequency. In the old hours – this is the pendulum swing, and in modern atomic – the vibration of the cesium atom.
The optical clock works in the same way. They measure the vibrations of atoms or ions moving with a frequency of 100,000 times greater than cesium particles in atomic clocks. To fix them, measurements are made in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum – hence the name “optical”. Optical clocks are much more precise than atomic clocks, but earlier their application was postponed due to some technical difficulties.
Atomic time measurement technologies
Atomic timing technologies originated in the 1940s and were approved by the world scientific community in 1967. Currently, as a standard, a time interval equal to 1/86400 parts of the average solar day is adopted. However, disturbances in the rotation of the Earth make one doubt its accuracy.
At present, there are about 400 atomic clocks in the world connected by a space communication system and providing our planet with the exact time . By the way, the “atomic” accuracy is millions of times greater than the astronomical accuracy.
A person who is far from science will probably have a question: why do we need such accuracy? For the operation of modern telecommunications equipment, synchronization is required about a millionth of a second. The functioning of power grids and GPS systems allows an error of not more than a billionth of a second per day. No less “whimsical” in this respect and the Internet.
But, as it turned out, the atomic clock is not perfect either. For a month, an error of one nanosecond (one billionth of a second) is accumulated. According to scientists, optical clockscan provide greater accuracy .