Ultracold Strontium apparatus
A new kind of atomic clock is more precise than any yet built, with the ability to tick smoothly for a thousand times the lifetime of the universe. In addition to being the best timekeeper to date, the new so-called quantum gas clock might one day offer insights into new physics.
Researchers at JILA (formerly also referred to as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) used a combination of strontium atoms and an array of laser beams to create a clock so precise it might be able to measure the interaction of gravity at smaller scales than ever before. In doing so, it might shed light on the nature of its relationship to other fundamental forces, a mystery that has baffled physicists for decades.
Atomic clocks measure time by using the vibrations of atoms like a very precise metronome. Current atomic clocks are off by seconds over tens of billions of years. This newest iteration stays precise enough that it will be off by only 1 second over about 90 billion years. [5 of the Most Precise Clocks Ever Made]
The clock can measure seconds down to 1 part in trillions.