Einstein helps crack huge mystery after 100 years – clocks to 'become 50x more precise'

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Einstein helps crack huge mystery after 100 years – clocks to 'become 50x more precise'

The genius’ theory, first drawn up back in 1915, can be used to explains things like the gravitational effect on time. This has had effective pract

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The genius’ theory, first drawn up back in 1915, can be used to explains things like the gravitational effect on time. This has had effective practical uses like correcting GPS satellite measurements. Now, JILA have discovered how the theory can make our clocks more accurate. The JILA is joint partnership of scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. The team put Einstein’s theory to the test in two experiments.

They said the results could mean atomic clocks can become 50 times more precise than the best designs we see today.

The scientists also found that the result may reveal how relativity and gravity interact with quantum mechanics.

NIST/JILA Fellow Jun Ye said: “The most important and exciting result is that we can potentially connect quantum physics with gravity, for example, probing complex physics when particles are distributed at different locations in the curved space-time.

“For timekeeping, it also shows that there is no roadblock to making clocks 50 times more precise than today—which is fantastic news.”

NIST scientists have already been used atomic clocks to measure relativity with increasing precision.

This might help us to understand how its effects play a role in quantum mechanics.

General relativity puts forward that atomic clocks click at different rates when they are at different elevations in a gravitational field.

The researchers conducted the experiments to measure frequency shifts between the top and bottom of 100,000 atoms loaded into what is called an optical lattice.

This is a web of laser light that traps atoms in place so they can be examined.

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They found that the measured increase in the wavelength across the atom cloud was very small, at around 0.0000000000000000001.

They then found that their measurement accuracy was 50 times more precise than any other clock comparison seen before.

Mr Ye said: “This a completely new ballgame, a new regime where quantum mechanics in curved space-time can be explored.

“If we could measure the redshift 10 times even better than this, we will be able to see the atoms’ whole matter waves across the curvature of space-time.

“Being able to measure the time difference on such a minute scale could enable us to discover, for example, that gravity disrupts quantum coherence, which could be at the bottom of why our macroscale world is classical.”

Atomic clocks are thought to be among the most accurate form of keeping time that humans have ever known.

They are designed to measure the exact length of a second.

Before the JILA experiment, the Madison clock was thought to be the most precise clock ever.

It can keep time to within one second over 300 billion years—over 20 times longer than the age of the universe.

The detail of the JILA expirements were published in the Feburay 17 issue of the journal Nature.



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