Research by physicists from the University of Boulder’s Astrophysics Laboratory, Colorado, and published today in the scientific journal Nature, suggests a way to design atomic clocks 50 times more accurate than the best currently available and a way to research how gravitational and relativity interact with quantum mechanics, one of the The main questions that modern physics is trying to answer.
A theory proposed by a German physicist in 1915 explains the effects of gravity over time and has important practical implications, such as correcting measurements made by GPS satellites.
According to the general theory of relativity, atomic clocks placed at different altitudes measure time at different rates.
The accuracy of atomic clocks is due to the fact that they take advantage of a fundamental property of atoms, which when they change their energy level, emit or absorb light at a frequency common to all particles of a particular element.
Atomic clocks measure time with a laser tuned to this atomic pulsar, which is slower at lower altitudes.
Scientists suggest that they could serve as a kind of microscope to look at the tiniest links between quantum mechanics and gravity and search for the so-called “dark matter” that supposedly makes up most of the universe.
Other physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have built what they consider one of the most accurate atomic clocks ever built, allowing them to study gravitational waves and elusive dark matter.
The instrument, which uses ultra-cooled strontium atoms, is a so-called retina-eye atomic clock that is capable of working so precisely that it regresses or advances only one second every 300 billion years.
What’s new for the University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers is that the device they created uses six different clocks in the same environment.
The group led by physicist Shimon Kolkowitz pioneered the use of low-quality lasers to achieve the same results as more complex lasers.
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