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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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Doomsday Clock
By lemonadesoda on 8/1/2006 5:15:22 PM , Rating: 2
Will this new clock outlive the human race? I don't think so... it will run out of batteries. LOL.

****

One quick comment on nuclear proliferation.
Although the number of warheads has decreased, unforunately, the number of potential "button pressers" has increased. I would like to think that the increasing number of parties that can play nuke-thy-neighbor are linked in some sort of collective sensible behaviour via the U.N. But recent events demonstrate this is not necessarily true.

Consider this example: If EVERYONE in the world had a nuclear device (albeit small) then you can guarantee one if not hundreds would have been used already . You can't disagree with that. OK. Now we've established the principle.

On the other side, if only ONE person had a nuclear device, then, as long as there was sufficent policy restraint on its use, then hopefully, we could pretty much guarantee that the device would never be used.

Unfortunately, we are somewhere in between... and moving ever closer to the first scenario.

I would thoroughly recommend Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) for a comic, but nonetheless accurate analysis of the political issues associated with managing the bomb.





RE: Doomsday Clock
By masher2 (blog) on 8/1/2006 5:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
>"I would thoroughly recommend Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) for a comic, but nonetheless accurate analysis..."

One of my favorite movies...but certainly not an accurate analysis even when it was made in the 1960s, and certainly nowhere near reality today.


RE: Doomsday Clock
By lemonadesoda on 8/1/2006 7:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
Have to agree there. The "accurate" got left in after some judicious editing of the post. It was actually part of another sentence no longer existing. Whoops! (and whoops for reply to wrong post again)


Doomsday movies [with spoilers]
By tygrus on 8/1/2006 11:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
In 1983 the movie 'WarGames' was released with a plot based on a computer system designed to track nukes and control USA nukes confuses reality with AI learning of a game (simulation). WorldWarIII and world annihilation is narrowly avoided. 'The only way to win the game [survive] is to not play' (paraphrase).
'The Bedford incident'(1865) while not nuclear it is another good example of what can happen when people are stressed and the CO is trigger-happy. If you up the anti and then fire, both sides end up dead.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke











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