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Redefining time

According to reports published in the Physical Review Letter, the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) published a paper indicating that it had discovered a new type of atomic clock based on mercury-ion. The report said that the new atomic clock is so accurate it's nearly 6 times more precise than the current cesium-based atomic clock.

The report said that the NIST currently operates a cesium-based atomic clock called the NIST-F1, which is accurate for roughly 70 million years. If operated continuously, the NIST-F1 would only be off by 1 second after 70 million years. The new mercury-ion atomic clock on the other hand will take 400 million years.

The new experimental clock measures the atomic resonance frequency of a mercury atom. The atom itself is electrically charged and kept in an extremely cold suspension. Using the new mercury-ion atomic clock, scientists at the NIST say that they will be able to conduct more precise experiments and further develop applications that rely on atomic-time accuracy such as GPS systems. Currently, the international standard that defines what one second is relies on cesium-based atomic clocks -- 9,192,631,770 radiation cycles of the change between two energy levels of a cesium atom. The NIST says that it will be five to ten years before we see mercury-ion clocks replace cesium ones.

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RE: .
By GhandiInstinct on 8/1/2006 12:13:36 PM , Rating: 5
Optimistic to say the least masher.

We are at a time now where we have the capability of finsihing each other off faster than ever before.

We don't need to wait until any point in population growth, where World War 2 lasted 6 years any potential conflict of mass puportions will end swiftly and catastrophicaly.

Screw dirty water we have dirty bombs.

RE: .
By masher2 on 8/1/2006 12:30:42 PM , Rating: 1
> "We are at a time now where we have the capability of finsihing each other off faster than ever before..."

Oops, incorrect. We hit that peak shortly before SALT I, in the early 1970s. Nuclear stockpiles have been decreasing ever since then.

Perhaps in the future we'll be back at the point of total global destruction at the touch of a button-- but we're not there now.

RE: .
By GhandiInstinct on 8/1/2006 12:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
Let me enlighten you my friend since you have been kind enough to attempt the same:

Countries with Nuclear Warheads as of 2004

United States





United Kingdom



North Korea


Surely 20,168 Nukes raining across Earth isn't enough to do anything ^_^

RE: .
By masher2 on 8/1/2006 12:57:07 PM , Rating: 3
> "Let me enlighten you my friend "

Nuclear proliferation is a subject I've studied extensively since my days in graduate school. Here's a chart of US nuclear stockpiles over the years. As you see, its been well over 30,000 weapons in the 1960s, down to less than a third of that today. Same for the Soviet Union.

The figures fail to show the status of those warheads as well. In the 1960s, the majority were not only active, but pretargeted and ready to launch on a moment's notice. Today, the vast majority of our arsenal is in essentially in a "warm standby" mode.

In the past 40 years, the number of nuclear-capable nations has increased. That certainly increases the risk of a small nuclear exchange, but the risk of "destroying ourselves" as you put it, has declined dramatically over the years.

RE: .
By Griswold on 8/1/2006 12:42:03 PM , Rating: 2
What does nuclear stockpiles have to do with it? There are still more than enough nuclear weapons around and ready to be used to lay waste to the human race.

If you're a frequent reader of the bulletin of atomic scientists, you will also know that the threat of such a holocaust is steadily increasing since the end of the 90's, after its all-time low in the early 90's - and that is not just because the doomsdayclock says so.

I know you like links, so here is one for you:

RE: .
By kitchme on 8/1/2006 1:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if that's an atomic clock displaying minutes till midnight.

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