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    2 Mar 2015

    Japanese scientists create the most accurate atomic clock ever. using Strontium atoms held in a lattice of laser beams the clocks only lose 1 second every 16 billion years.

    A clock that is so accurate it will lose just one second in 16 billion years has been created by scientists.
    The device, made using super-cooled atoms held within a lattice of laser beams, is around 1,000 times more precise than the atomic clocks currently used to define time.
    Researchers say clocks with this level of accuracy could open up new areas of science by allowing tiny changes fluctuations in the strength of gravity to be measured.

     This is because time in a powerful gravitational field will move more slowly than in a weaker field - a gravity induced time dilation predicted by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

    By placing these hyper-accurate clocks at various depths around the world, it will be possible to measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravity.
    It could help geologists understand some of the processes that drive events like earthquakes and may even make it possible to predict them.
    Dr Hidetoshi Katori, head of the quantum metrology laboratory at the RIKEN Centre for Advanced Photonics in Japan, said the clock could also be used to develop a new international standard for the second.
    He said: 'If we can miniaturize this technology further, it would have useful applications, since tiny fluctuations in gravitational potential could be used to detect underground resources, underground spaces, and the movement of lava.
    'We also hope that in the future, this will accelerate the movement toward a new definition of the international second, based on optical lattice clocks, to an even more stringent standard than the current definition of the second.

    Currently seconds are defined using International Atomic Time, which uses the oscillation of electrons within a cesium atom when it is cooled to almost absolute zero.
    As these electrons oscillate they emit microwaves each time and these can be measured.
    The best caesium atomic clocks are accurate to around one second in every 100 million years.
    However, Dr Katori and his colleagues have created two optical lattice clocks using atoms of strontium that are held in a laser-generated egg-box shaped lattice. 

    A single atom is held within each 'cup' of the lattice within a container cooled to -180 degrees C.
    By then measuring the frequency of light absorbed by millions of these atoms, scientists are then able to use this to monitor time.
    Scientists have been trying to improve the accuracy of these clocks for years but until now it has been hard to produce any that out perform current atomic clocks.
    However, Dr Katori has found that using laser of a specific wavelength and cooling the atoms can improve their accuracy.
    In a study published in the journal Nature Photonics, Dr Katori and his colleagues compared two of these clocks over the period of a month to confirm their accuracy.
    According to the scientists, if their clocks had been running since the beginning of the universe around 13.8 billion years ago, they would have lost less than a second in time.
    Dr Katori added: 'It was a great feeling to have shown this excellent agreement between the clocks.'

    Read more:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2946329/The-world-s-accurate-clock-Optical-lattice-clock-loses-just-one-second-16-BILLION-years.html
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