The World’s Most Accurate Clock. Ever.

The World’s Most Accurate Clock. Ever.

138 million years. That’s how long it’s been since dinosaurs first appeared on Earth. And how long it’ll take for this clock to lose a second.

The clock, dubbed the NPL-CsF2 (sexy, right?), is one of an elite class of caesium fountain clocks that’s used by Europe, the US and Japan as the primary frequency standard. This standard is used to obtain an International Atomic Time and Universal Coordinated Time — -both of which are employed in the communications and finance industries as well as for satellite navigation.

It stands just over 2.4m tall and tosses caesium-33 atoms through a tune-able microwave cavity and measures the number of oscillations as the cesium atoms transition between two energy levels — 9,192,631,770 cycles being one second, according to the International System of Units. The external cylinder protects the fountain mechanism from external magnetic fields.

io9 points out

For the caesium fountain, NPL scientists took into account all phenomena known to shift the clock’s frequency — from external elecromagnetic fields and atomic collisions, to the Doppler effect and microwave-lensing — that might affect clock’s function. This attention to detail is what Krzysztof Szymaniec, the leader of the project, credits for the clock’s extreme accuracy.

[CNET, BBC, National Physics Lab, Science Codex, Paleontology]

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