Terrific Timekeeper: Optical atomic clock beats world standard | Science News


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Terrific Timekeeper: Optical atomic clock beats world standard

11:23am, July 19, 2006

Physicists in Colorado say that they've refined an innovative atomic clock to be more precise than the breed of clocks that's been the best for 50 years.

The advance indicates that the reign of atomic clocks tuned to the element cesium is coming to an end, says physicist James C. Bergquist of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colo., who led the work.

To track time, a cesium clock exploits the absorption of microwaves by a cloud of cesium atoms (SN: 9/4/04, p. 150: Available to subscribers at Tiny Timepiece: Atomic clock could fit almost anywhere). In contrast, the NIST optical cloc

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