Nuclear clock research could change how we count seconds

A team of researchers have developed a nuclear clock, which could calculate the passage of time far more effectively than an atomic clock.

For decades, we’ve relied on atomic clocks which have kept time by counting the vibrations of atoms, and have even used that measurement to set the standard for timekeeping. Now, a team of researchers are prepared to one-up this by producing a nuclear clock that will pose near perfect accuracy.
If counting how accurate a second is sounds dull, consider how many seconds constitute an hour, never mind a day; the slightest inaccuracy can grow exponentially.
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To remedy this, a team of researchers from several institutions in Germany have developed a new, ultra-accurate means of timekeeping that relies on tracking the transition of atoms from an excited state to a ground state.
Using what is termed a “low-energy microchannel plate detection technique”, or, in English, capturing a release of visible light from fired electronics onto a phosphor screen by camera, scientists are now able to track the passage of a second more effectively.
The research itself can contribute towards the production of a nuclear clock, which could revolutionise how we track time. It would make sense, in an age of electronics, to have the best time-keeping solution available.
While few people will require a clock so accurate, a nuclear clock could be used to definitively conclude the actual length of a second. Added up, that means our calculation of days, months, and years could also fundamentally change.
Read: In 5 billion years this clock will be accurate to the second
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Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA
Source: Nature