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This Cosmic Timekeeping Method Proposes to Synchronize All Clocks on Earth

Manwon Lender

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Modern technology pulses with a heartbeat measured in microseconds. From global positioning systems to communications networks, it's vital every component falls into near-perfect synch. Called cosmic time synchronization (CTS), Tanaka proposes we use the subatomic fireworks that shower down from collisions between high energy cosmic rays and our atmosphere. Those collisions generate a variety of particles, one of which is the heavyweight cousin of the electron – the muon.

Crucially, every shower of muons rains down in a slightly unique fashion, providing a signature explosion that can be detected independently by sensors spread across several square kilometers. By sharing details of each event and working backward, a network can use a series of cosmic muon fireworks to synchronize their watches with split-second precision. "The principle is robust, and the technology, detectors, and timing electronics already exist. So we could implement this idea relatively quickly," said Tanaka.


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