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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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About that oil..... a non renewable source
By Dfere on 8/1/2006 1:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
We may have an ability to produce more of things, but that does not mean the reserves are more avilable. There is a difference between what we have left and what can use today. Take oil. Back in the 70's the Saudi's were hitting water, which in America until ten years ago, we would have capped the wells. They pioneered techniques to still pump oil through it (This was "second generation"). They have since hit other obstacles and have improved techniques, I believe they consider their equipment 4th generation, which include improvements for horizontal shafts, opening and closing vents along the shaft walls, etc.

The point is, the original projection was probably close to accurate, given the original technology. Your point seems to be that technology allows us to harvest more. At some point we still hit a point where we will be out of a non-renewable source. The only question is, how long? Certainly we can decrease our dependence upon that item, and when it becomes incredibly scarce we will be forced to. I happen to think that the Saudis aknow this, they have been heavily promoting the other industries in their country for more than a few years now (gypsum mining, etc).

(sorry for not more exact quotes, this was something casually read 6 months ago or so) please feel free to add more if anyone can find this.

By masher2 on 8/1/2006 2:32:39 PM , Rating: 3
> "Your point seems to be that technology allows us to harvest more"

Technology plus new exploration are the two main factors yes. But even beyond that, oil itself is not a nonrenewable resource. Natural petroleum is...but we can chemically produce oil itself directly from nothing but hydrogen and carbon. The Germans were doing essentially this back in WW2.

I don't know if we'll ever get to the point of synthesizing gasoline or oil in massive quantities. I do know, however, that regardless, we won't have a crisis. There are already many, many alternatives on the table. They're not in use simply because of cost. As long as oil is cheaper than bottled water, they're never going to be viable.

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