We couldn’t live our lives without them. They affect almost every aspect of our daily lives and many of the technologies that we take for granted in today’s world, just couldn’t function without them. In fact, if you are reading this article on the Internet the there is a chance you are using one right now.
Without knowing it, atomic clocks govern all of us. From the Internet; to mobile phone networks and satellite navigation, without atomic clocks none of these technologies would be possible.
And they will continue to do so for several million years as atomic clocks are so accurate they can maintain time to within a second for well over 100 million years. However, atomic clocks can be made even more accurate and a French team of scientists are planning to do just that by launching an atomic clock into space.
Atomic clocks are limited to their accuracy on Earth because of the effects of he gravitational pull of the planet on time itself; as Einstein suggested time itself is warped by gravity and this warping slows down time on Earth.
However, a new type of atomic clock named PHARAO (Projet d’Horloge Atomique par Refroidissement d’Atomes en Orbit) is to be placed aboard the ISS (international space station) out of reach from the worst effects of Earth’ gravitational pull.
This new type of atomic clock will allow hyper accurate synchronization with other atomic clocks, here on Earth (which in effect will make synchronization to an NTP server even more precise).
Pharao is expected to reach accuracies of around one second each 300 million years and will allow further advances in time reliant technologies.