What do you think of when you hear the word “clock”? Do you picture a couple of arrow hands on a round face with numbers around the rim, going tick-tock? That’s the old perception of clocks. Today’s clocks are worlds away from those pocket watches and grandfather clocks with pendulums. This is the age of technology, the Internet, social media, and a vast net of connectivity. And believe it or not, today’s clocks are actually what run that world, and they do so with atomic precision.
What is an atomic clock, more accurately called a chip scale atomic clock, and what makes it atomic? Contrary to what the name invokes, there is nothing nuclear about these devices. The use of the word atomic comes from the inner workings of the clock. Where traditional clocks work using spring-powered gears that click as they turn to count seconds, minutes and hours, these atomic clock work by counting the frequency of electromagnetic waves that are being emitted by a container of cesium atoms. The atoms are held in a container about the size of a grain of rice, which is struck by a very small laser beam, causing the electromagnetic waves to be measured.
These clocks are a technological wonder, as they run on 100 times less power than other clocks, and are no bigger than a matchbox. The accuracy of this clock is to be marveled at, as it will only lose one second per 50 billion years, it is the most precise device for measuring time that mankind possesses. There is another great difference between chip scale atomic clocks and their older, less advanced counterparts, and that is the fact that they do not actually tell the time of day. They can be used in reference to other clocks, to detect the accuracy of their time keeping, which is the main way that phones, Internet, and all of wide-spanning connections stay on the same basic timeline. This is crucial to preventing mass confusion and upset worldwide.
The other main purpose of these clocks is to be used in tandem with another atomic clock, to keep two groups of otherwise unconnected people in perfect synchronization. This is key to applications around the globe, since GPS signals are not always reliable or able to reach remote areas and destinations. For example, miners deep underground can plan safely with people above, and deep-sea explorers can stay on the same page as their counterparts on the surface, which is key to safety in both cases.
Communication and data relay across nations depends on these chip scale atomic clocks to ensure that there is no room for error or miscommunication, a crucial aspect of keeping the peace between the world’s powerful nations. The military applications also cannot be understated in importance.
Chip scale atomic clocks are also being designed for portable use, and geologists, hydrologists and scientists in other fields of study are finding new ways of using them, such as accurately measuring the changes that occur to the surface of our planet, as well as measure ice shifts for various climate studies. To sum up, chip scale atomic clocks are invaluable when it comes to keeping the world coordinated and connected.
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Article Author: Rocky Rhodes
Article Source: EzineArticles
Image Source: Aventas Inc
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