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Scientists are hoping to redefine the second - here's why

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Everyone needs to know the time. Ever since the 17th century Dutch inventor Christiaan Huygens made the first pendulum clock, people have been thinking of good reasons to measure time more precisely.

Getting the time right is important in so many ways, from running a railway to doing millisecond trades on the stock market. Now, for most of us, our clocks are checking themselves against a signal from atomic clocks, like those on board the global positioning system (GPS) satellites.

But a recent study by two teams of scientists in Boulder, Colorado might mean those signals will get much more accurate, by paving the way to effectively allow us to redefine the second more precisely. Atomic clocks could become so accurate, in fact, that we could begin to measure previously imperceptible gravity waves.


Frequency ratio measurements at 18-digit accuracy using an optical clock network.


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  • The title was changed to Scientists are hoping to redefine the second - here's why

I was going to ask "the second what?"   but time, ok.  

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