Written by IainB
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Topics: Time, Physics

Monday, 9 February 2009

image for More accurate than time itself
A clock showing the wrong time

A new clock developed by the National Physics Laboratory is redefining time itself.

The current most accurate clock is a Caesium Fountain Ion clock that is accurate to within a second every 400 million years, but physicists felt that they could do better, and have now created a strontium ion lattice clock that is accurate to within a second ever 30 billion years. If the clock had been started with the universe, it would still be accurate today.

"It's quite a breakthrough," said Tim Enuff of the NPL. "It will allow GPS to be accurate to within a millimetre, opening up new possibilities, such as a GPS picture hanger to ensure all your pictures are level."

The unprecedented accuracy of the clock is allowing physicists to probe time itself, something they've been unable to do before.

"What we've discovered is, that time is different on the ground floor to the basement," said Enuff. "Incredibly, it's different depending on whether you put the clock on a table, or at head height on the wall. This shows that our head hair ages faster than our toe nails. Assuming you don't walk on your hands most of the time."

The Strontium Clock was put on a light aircraft and flown from New York to Arizona, proving Einstein right, as the clock that had been synchronised in Arizona was slightly ahead of the one on the plane, by a whole one billionth of a second. Unfortunately, it means that simply moving the clock will make it inaccurate.

Whilst Enuff was impressed, his wife was less so: "He's always late home for dinner, I don't care how accurate his clock is."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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