New Mercury-Ion Atomic Clock Accurate for 400 Million Years
August 1, 2006 10:21 AM
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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: About that oil..... a non renewable source
8/1/2006 2:32:39 PM
> "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.
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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