Scientists believe that atomic clocks are not accurate enough and should be replaced with optical clocks

What if the atomic clock, which has been used as a time standard for more than 50 years, is actually not that accurate? After all, time is an abstract quantity, and now it is determined by several hundred atomic clocks around the world.

According to German scientists, the era of atomic clocks is coming to an end - researchers have finally managed to find a way to use optical clocks to determine the time with unsurpassed accuracy.

At the heart of any time measuring device is an event that repeats at a constant frequency. In ancient clocks, this is the swing of a pendulum, and in modern atomic clocks, it is the vibration of a cesium atom.

An optical clock works in the same way. They measure the vibrations of atoms or ions moving at a frequency 100, 000 times greater than the cesium particles in an atomic clock. To fix them, measurements are made in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum - hence the name "optical". Optical clocks are much more accurate than atomic clocks, but their use was previously delayed due to some technical difficulties.

Nuclear timing technology

Atomic timing technologies originated in the 40s and were approved by the world scientific community in 1967. At present, a time interval equal to 1/86400 of an average solar day is adopted as a standard. However, disturbances in the Earth's rotation raise doubts about its accuracy.

Atomic clock. They look very impressive

Currently, there are about 400 atomic clocks in the world, interconnected by a space communication system and providing our planet with accurate time. By the way, the "atomic" accuracy is millions of times higher than the astronomical one.

A person who is far from science will probably have a question: why is such precision needed? For the operation of modern telecommunications equipment, synchronization of about a millionth of a second is required. The functioning of power grids and GPS systems allows an error of no more than a billionth of a second per day. The Internet is no less "capricious" in this respect.

But, as it turned out, atomic clocks are not perfect either. An error of one nanosecond (one billionth of a second) accumulates over a month. According to scientists, optical clocks can provide greater accuracy.