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New Optical Lattice Clock Could Redefine The Length Of The Second

A new clock that uses lasers to help tell time could change how we measure the second.

French researchers have developed an even more accurate clock that they say will "redefine the second." The optical lattice clock loses just one second every 300 million years, making it three times more accurate than an atomic clock, which is currently the world timekeeping standard.

While the atomic clock uses microwaves to get cesium atoms to oscillate, optical lattice clocks use light from lasers to excite strontium atoms. As the laser beams oscillate more quickly than microwave radiation, it takes less time to divide time, meaning a more precise measurement. Therefore, a slightly shorter second.

Not sure this really matters that much? Tell that to the telecoms industry, sat-nav firms, and the world's stock markets, all of whom rely on accurate timekeeping and measuring.

[Image by Flickr user robstephaustralia]

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