Scientists make time precision 'breakthrough'

First published: 22-05-2009

Watches that maintain their precision using signals from regional atomic clocks could soon get more accurate, following a scientific breakthrough.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the University of Colorado have discovered how to prevent collisions between atoms in atomic clocks.

Atoms in such devices are kept at ultra-low temperatures to keep them moving as little as possible. However, collisions between atoms can disrupt the precision of measurements used to calculate time accurately.

Lead researcher at the Colorado institution Jun Ye told the National Science Foundation that adjusting the clock laser used to measure atoms could reduce the errors due to collisions.

The new discovery comes after scientists discovered a way of telling the age of ceramic archaeological objects using their internal clock.

This new process of dating involves heating ceramics, reducing the water content and then measuring how long it takes to reach its former weight.

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