Developing new methods of telling the time accurately and precisely has developed to a new obsession amongst chronologists in the twenty first century. Since the development of the first atomic clocks in the 1950’s with millisecond accuracy the race was started with organisation such as the US’s NIST (National Institute for Standards and Time) and the UK’s NPL (National Physical Laboratory) developing increasingly accurate atomic clocks.
Atomic clocks are used as the time source for high technologies and applications such as satellite navigation and air traffic control, they are also the source for time signals used by NTP servers to synchronise computer networks.
An NTP server works by continually adjusting the computers system clock to ensure it matches the time relayed by the atomic clock. In doing this the NTP server can keep a computer network to within a few milliseconds of atomic clock controlled UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
However, as remarkable this technology may seem it appears Mother Nature has already been doing the very same thing with our own body clocks.
The human body clock is only just being understood by medical science (the study of which is called Chronobiology) but what is known is that the body clock extremely important in the functioning of our day to day lives; it is also highly accurate and works in a very similar way to the NTP server.
Whilst a NTP time server receives a time signal from an atomic clock and adjust the system clocks on computers to match, our body clocks do the very same thing. The body clock runs in a circadian rhythm in other words a 24 hour clock. When the sun rises in the morning part of the brain that governs the body clock called the suprachiasmatic nucleus – which is located in the brain’s hypothalamus, automatically corrects for the sun’s movement.
In this way the human body clock adjusts for the darker winters and lighter months of the summer which is why you may find it more difficult to wake in the winter. The body clock adjusts itself every day to ensure it is synchronised to the rotation of the sun just as a NTP time server synchronises a computer’s system clock to ensure it is running accurately to its timing source – the atomic clock.