All About Atomic Clocks

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Atomic Clocks are used everywhere today; their unparalleled accuracy has made them invaluable for international time distribution services, controlling the frequency of television broadcasts and global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.

It was Lord Kelvin who first suggested using atoms to measure time back in 1879, but it wasn't until 1949 that the world's first atomic clock was built at the American Bureau of Standards. Although this first atomic clock wasn't as accurate as quartz powered clocks it did help to show that time could be measured by atoms.

The first accurate atomic clock was built at the British National Physical Laboratory by Louis Essen in 1955. This machine used the vibrations of the caesium-133 atom to calculate the passing of time, and it wasn't long before the length of a second was defined by atomic clocks.

The international definition of a second was agreed to be 9,192,631,770 vibrations of a caesium-133 atom. Since then many other atoms have been used to power atomic clocks, including hydrogen and rubidium.

The first Atomic Clock that was sold commercially was the Atomichron manufactured by the National Company. The Atomichron was a huge and expensive instrument that was replaced by smaller, rack mounted devices. Today atomic clocks exist that are similar in size to a grain of rice.

The use of Atomic Clocks has led to many scientific and technological advances. Without Atomic Clocks we would have no worldwide system of precise position measurement, that we call Global Positioning System, or GPS.

Atomic Clocks are used at time signal radio transmitters, which deliver their time to radio controlled clocks. And Atomic Clocks are used by scientists for a wide range of purposes, including working out how far away stars are.

 

Newgate Clocks, the official online shop to purchase Clocks, Mantel Clocks, Alarm Clocks, Wall Clocks and Mirrors!

 

 

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