back to article Got a big day planned in 15 billion years? You need this clock

The world's most accurate clock has been invented, and is ideal for anyone who doesn't want to be a second late over billions and billions of years. Boffins have improved the accuracy of the best optical atomic clock by a factor of three, so that it will not lose a second in 15 billion years – which is greater than the age of …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Obligatory Terry Pratchet reference

    Someone is building a glass clock again...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Terry Pratchet reference

      They mutht have Igorth...

    2. Grikath

      Re: Obligatory Terry Pratchet reference


      I'll just get my broom then...

    3. Slartybardfast

      Re: Obligatory Terry Pratchet reference

      OK who's the sad little fucker down voting a harmless Terry Pratchett meme? And why?

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Obligatory Terry Pratchet reference

        Maybe it's a case of "Too Soon". I only found out about Sir Pratchett's passing a week back, as I was out of touch for a while. As for the clock, I suppose it will be extremely difficult to know if it really can keep accurate time if it's THAT sensitive to movement, given that everything in the universe moves.

        And just for the record, that precision limit is still about 25 orders of magnitude away from Planck time, so maybe it isn't right to compare this to the Glass Clock.

      2. Jedit Silver badge

        "OK who's the sad little fucker down voting a harmless Terry Pratchett meme? "

        It wasn't me, but it could be a reaction to overuse. In Pratchett fandom there's a long standing tradition at meets of making people kick 20p into the beer fund if they quote Monty Python for just this reason. And it's justified; I remember a long signing queue where of course the rule wasn't applied, and by the time we got to the front there had been an almost complete recitation of Life of Brian.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Doesn't this also mean that it's going to be affected by things like the mass of air in the atmosphere above it? Which obviously varies...

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Sensitivity

      And merely existing. Make 2, synchronise them then fly one round the world. The times on each now differ - which one is right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sensitivity

        I recall that this sort of thing has been tried already. Wikipedia agrees: But the discussion of which one is "right" is probably more philosophical than scientific ...

        1. Bob Vistakin

          Re: Sensitivity

          They are both correct in their respective local frames of reference, since the laws of physics apply equally to every point in the universe. This is why there can never be such a thing as absolute time.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Sensitivity

          "But the discussion of which one is "right" is probably more philosophical than scientific "

          Yes, especially considering that the earth, solar system, galaxy, local galactic group etc all have motion too. If the universe is expanding from an original point then there ought to be a centre, a point of absolute rest from which all other motion is relative. Or is there some astronomical or quantum thingy which says that is rubbish?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The remaining component needed to complete my time machine.

    See ya, suckers.

    1. Cynic_999

      Re: finally

      You are too late. I already completed my time machine next month, and will be perfecting it early last week.

  4. Achilleas

    Milliways reservation

    Reading the article, all I can think of is how it's impossible to miss your booking at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, given how reservations are generally made after you've returned from your meal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Milliways reservation

      This is, of course, impossible.

  5. johnnymotel

    just invented??

    This clock has been in development for a number of years, however, its only recently that the boffins have achieved the 15 billion year accuracy. I think the geodesy application has to be the most interesting, perhaps this could be the start of earthquake predictions.

  6. Cliff

    Ironically, 'real' time is a bodge

    Lots of bodge leap-seconds, etc.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Ironically, 'real' time is a bodge

      Blame the Earth for that. If it weren't for the fact the Earth's rotation is oh-so-gently slowing down, atom-based UTC wouldn't need to keep adjusting to keep near the Earth-based GMT. Otherwise, UTC noon wouldn't match up to Grenwich noon.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ironically, 'real' time is a bodge

        Yeahbut, all time is relative. A Doctor told me.

  7. ItsNotMe


    Now I can get my hard boiled eggs cooked perfectly!

  8. Mark 85

    Twilight Zone....

    I think we've arrived. Pick one but you have hear it in your head with Rod Serling's voice....

    You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone!

    You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into... the Twilight Zone.

    There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call "The Twilight Zone".


  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Martin Budden Silver badge

    As good as the new strontium clock is, I'm even more impressed by this one:

    Clockmaker John Harrison vindicated 250 years after ‘absurd’ claims

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're right. This achievement is an impressive iterative advance whereas Harrison's was an astonishing out of the blue piece of genius.

      What's really scary with Harrison is that even though he'd already advanced science and industry by solving one intractable problem his claim to be able to solve another was still ridiculed because he wasn't part of the establishment.

      It's lucky we've learnt our lesson and no longer only elect people from Eton and Oxbridge.


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All of this is great, but will it tap me on the wrist when I get an email about my Nigerian investments?

  12. Thaumaturge

    Kronos grave spinner....

    I really can't imagine just how we ever got by on the mere 2 x 10e-12 accuracy of the cesium beam.


  13. The Engineer

    Product Test

    Don't we need to wait 15 billion years to see if this is true?

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