Über-Precise Atomic Clocks Are Half-Past a Revolution

Smaller, cheaper, and mysterious
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 11:38 AM CST
"Time is a total mystery. What exactly is time? I can't tell you," says one scientist. "We're measuring something with extreme accuracy, but who knows what?"   (US Government)
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(Newser) – Forget the Swiss—the world's best clocks sit in a Colorado lab where a team of scientists is shaping them into über-precise gadgets with broad-reaching implications on medicine, navigation, and surveillance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has built a clock the size of a grain of rice so sensitive that it can detect the magnetic field of a mouse's heartbeats, reports Wired.

The rapidly advancing technologies means clocks can measure disruptions by being passed over a surface—so they could be used to map the ocean floor, the presence of oil, or volcanic activity. Changes in laws of physics and time space all stand to be measured, but, says one scientist, time is still “a total mystery.”