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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8/1/2006 7:26:01 PM
> "Unless of course you want to dispute the effects of hundreds or even just dozens of modern nuclear weapons blowing up in the atmosphere."
I'll be happy to dispute it. The detonation of a few dozen, or even a few hundred nuclear weapons in the atmosphere will not mean the end of the world. A few thousand ground bursts now might mean a nuclear winter...or it might not. The data is open to interpretation.
> "Also, scientists seem to think that the threats of global warming are very real"
You won't find any serious climatologist who claims global warming entails the "end of the world".
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