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How the world’s most accurate clock can change fundamental physics

This handout, provided by NIST, shows the strontium atomic clock, one of the world’s most accurate timing elements in the laboratory of Professor June E of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity states that a massive body like the Earth bends space-time, causing time to slow down as we approach an object, so a person on top of a mountain ages a little faster than someone at sea level.


American scientists have now confirmed the theory on the smallest scale, demonstrating that clocks beat at different speeds when divided by millimeters.

June E of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder told AFP that their new watch was “to date” the most accurate ever built and could pave the way for new discoveries in quantum mechanics, a set of rules for subatomic world.

You and his colleagues published their findings on Wednesday in a prestigious journal Naturedescribing the engineering advances that allowed them to create a device 50 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks of today.

Only with the invention of the atomic clock, which tracks time by detecting the transition between two energy states inside an atom exposed to a certain frequency, have scientists been able to prove Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory.

Early experiments included the 1976 Gravity Probe, which included a spacecraft 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface and showed that an onboard clock was faster than the Earth’s equivalent by one second every 73 years.

Since then, watches have become more and more accurate and thus better detect the effects of relativity.

In 2010, NIST scientists observed that time was moving at different speeds when their clocks moved 33 centimeters (just over a foot) higher.

The theory of everything

A key breakthrough for Ye was working with networks of light known as optical gratings to capture atoms into ordered structures. This should prevent atoms from falling due to gravity or other movement that will result in loss of accuracy.

Inside the new watch are 100,000 strontium atoms layered on top of each other like a stack of pancakes, a total height of about a millimeter.

The clock is so accurate that when the scientists divided the stack into two parts, they were able to detect the time difference in the upper and lower halves.

At this level of accuracy, watches essentially act as sensors.

“Space and time are connected,” he said. “And with such an accurate measurement of time, you can really see how space changes in real time – the Earth is a living, living body.”

Such clocks, located across a volcanically active area, could show geologists the difference between hard rock and lava, helping to predict eruptions.

Or, for example, explore how global warming is leading to melting glaciers and rising oceans.

However, what worries you most is how future clocks may open up a whole new realm of physics.

Current clocks can detect a time difference of 200 microns, but if you reduce it to 20 microns, they can begin to explore the quantum world, helping to bridge the differences in theory.

Although the theory of relativity perfectly explains how large objects such as planets and galaxies behave, it is known to be incompatible with quantum mechanics dealing with very small ones.

According to quantum theory, each particle is also a wave and can occupy several places at once, which is called a superposition. But it is unclear how an object in two places simultaneously distorts space-time, according to Einstein’s theory.

Thus, the intersection of the two fields would bring physics closer to the unifying “theory of everything” that explains all the physical phenomena of space.


JILA atomic clock measures Einstein’s general theory of relativity on a millimeter scale


Additional information:
Tobias Botwell, Solving the Gravitational Red Shift in a Millimeter-Scale Atomic Sample, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04349-7. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04349-7

On the topic: Shimon Kolkovich, Comparison of differential clocks with multiplexed optical gratings, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04344-y. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04344-y

© 2022 AFP

Citation: How the most accurate clock in the world can change fundamental physics (2022, February 19) obtained February 19, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-world-precise-clock-fundamental-physics. html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for any honest transaction for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.



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How the world’s most accurate clock can change fundamental physics

This handout, provided by NIST, shows the strontium atomic clock, one of the world’s most accurate timing elements in the laboratory of Professor June E of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity states that a massive body like the Earth bends space-time, causing time to slow down as we approach an object, so a person on top of a mountain ages a little faster than someone at sea level.


American scientists have now confirmed the theory on the smallest scale, demonstrating that clocks beat at different speeds when divided by millimeters.

June E of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder told AFP that their new watch was “to date” the most accurate ever built and could pave the way for new discoveries in quantum mechanics, a set of rules for subatomic world.

You and his colleagues published their findings on Wednesday in a prestigious journal Naturedescribing the engineering advances that allowed them to create a device 50 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks of today.

Only with the invention of the atomic clock, which tracks time by detecting the transition between two energy states inside an atom exposed to a certain frequency, have scientists been able to prove Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory.

Early experiments included the 1976 Gravity Probe, which included a spacecraft 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface and showed that an onboard clock was faster than the Earth’s equivalent by one second every 73 years.

Since then, watches have become more and more accurate and thus better detect the effects of relativity.

In 2010, NIST scientists observed that time was moving at different speeds when their clocks moved 33 centimeters (just over a foot) higher.

The theory of everything

A key breakthrough for Ye was working with networks of light known as optical gratings to capture atoms into ordered structures. This should prevent atoms from falling due to gravity or other movement that will result in loss of accuracy.

Inside the new watch are 100,000 strontium atoms layered on top of each other like a stack of pancakes, a total height of about a millimeter.

The clock is so accurate that when the scientists divided the stack into two parts, they were able to detect the time difference in the upper and lower halves.

At this level of accuracy, watches essentially act as sensors.

“Space and time are connected,” he said. “And with such an accurate measurement of time, you can really see how space changes in real time – the Earth is a living, living body.”

Such clocks, located across a volcanically active area, could show geologists the difference between hard rock and lava, helping to predict eruptions.

Or, for example, explore how global warming is leading to melting glaciers and rising oceans.

However, what worries you most is how future clocks may open up a whole new realm of physics.

Current clocks can detect a time difference of 200 microns, but if you reduce it to 20 microns, they can begin to explore the quantum world, helping to bridge the differences in theory.

Although the theory of relativity perfectly explains how large objects such as planets and galaxies behave, it is known to be incompatible with quantum mechanics dealing with very small ones.

According to quantum theory, each particle is also a wave and can occupy several places at once, which is called a superposition. But it is unclear how an object in two places simultaneously distorts space-time, according to Einstein’s theory.

Thus, the intersection of the two fields would bring physics closer to the unifying “theory of everything” that explains all the physical phenomena of space.


JILA atomic clock measures Einstein’s general theory of relativity on a millimeter scale


Additional information:
Tobias Botwell, Solving the Gravitational Red Shift in a Millimeter-Scale Atomic Sample, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04349-7. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04349-7

On the topic: Shimon Kolkovich, Comparison of differential clocks with multiplexed optical gratings, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04344-y. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04344-y

© 2022 AFP

Citation: How the most accurate clock in the world can change fundamental physics (2022, February 19) obtained February 19, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-world-precise-clock-fundamental-physics. html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for any honest transaction for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.



Reported by Source link

RELATED ARTICLES
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