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New developments in atomic clock technology beat accuracy records, may inspire Ke$ha's next hit

Lydia Leavitt, @lydialeavitt
August 29, 2011
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According to a recent Penn State study that uses a new way to calculate time-telling precision, the CsF2 cesium-based atomic clock at the UK's National Physical Laboratory is almost twice as accurate as originally thought -- meaning it will only gain or lose one single second over the course of 138 million years. This atomic clock isn't the only competitor for best-in-show, as researchers at the University of Tokyo have also announced a new record, claiming their optical lattice atomic clock observes atoms a million times faster than a traditional atomic clock -- achieving accuracy up to 18 digits in a one second measurement. Although researchers say the technology would gain or lose a second significantly faster than the cesium-based variety (31.7 million years), it could change the way scientists perceive time and space, giving us new insights into fundamental constants of physics.

"Until now, clocks have been thought of as tools for sharing common time. But with clocks like this, conversely, we can understand that time passes at different speeds, depending on the time and place a clock is at," said Hidetoshi Katori of the University of Tokyo. Of course, both atomic clocks can help us stay timely, but they also have practical applications for everything from deep-space networking, to predicting earthquakes and GPS navigation. With this type of accuracy, looks like none of us will be getting away with showing up late to work anymore. Check out a video about the optical lattice clock after the break.







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