Fall Back: Does Anybody Know What Time It Really Is?
NIST-F1, the nation’s primary time and frequency standard, is a cesium fountain atomic clock developed at the NIST laboratories in Boulder, Colo. It’s so accurate, it would neither gain nor lose a second in more than 100 million years.
That’s nothing. A team of physicists from the United States and Russia has developed a way to compute a tiny, temperature-dependent source of error in atomic clocks. That could help atomic timekeepers achieve the longstanding goal of a clock with a precision equivalent to one second of error every 32 billion years — longer than the age of the universe.