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Looking at a watch is a thing of the past: a new way to measure time has been discovered

Looking at a watch is a thing of the past: a new way to measure time has been discovered


Time is measured by calculating the predetermined units of measurement between two points in time – seconds and the like were later determined also by fundamental properties of nature. Scientists have now found a new way to capture time.

Wave packets as a time measurement tool

The measurement of time is an interesting history of science. Next to Cesium clocks, which has allowed the second to be closely related to the measurable properties of the cesium-133 atom, there are many other exciting approaches to this task – including optical lattice clocks that achieve an almost unimaginable level of accuracy. As a team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden write in Physical Review Letters, they have discovered a way to measure the passage of time in an entirely different way.

Central to the idea of ​​searching for clues to the passage of time in the nature of things are called Rydberg atoms. Basic Idea: Atoms are excited by a laser and electrons are very high energy countries staggered – this also means that it strays from the core. The Rydberg state describes the motion of these electrons, and the description is mathematically also called a “wave packet”. As the researchers further described, the new method for measuring time intervals results from observing the interaction of these wave packets. “And when multiple wave packets move in the same quantum pool,” the Swedish team said aloud. Physics, “You get different types of overlap with a variety of unique patterns.” This pattern reflects the amount of time it takes to develop compared to all other patterns in the region.

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Minutes up to eight femtoseconds

In a series of experiments, the researchers then had to thoroughly check whether these individual timestamps could be used as a time-measuring tool. Experimental setup: helium atoms were excited with a laser pulse and short bursts of ultraviolet light, which allowed the spectrometry to be measured. Result: Measurements up to 81 picoseconds were possible, and the error rate was eight femtoseconds.

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