The Exact Time right nowExact time in the moment
The USNO's master clock functions like a grandpa's clock: with a pendulum. It''s the clock Ticking that displays so many of the other watches - on our telephones, on our computer, on our websites, on our TV monitors, on our radio and on our GPS system - from your geolocalization application to your Predator UAV - that is the thing of time.
" "Anybody who has had an surgery can tell you about the first," he said crookedly, "and anyone who tries to mix accurate watch information at the nano second scale can tell you about the second. "Matsakis' interactions with time began, of course, with attempting to repair a watch. A new, experimentally mercury-based watch came onto the market in 1990 and immediately began to fail.
" Its ramble into timing - and finally into monitoring the master clock - was, he said, "a complete coincidence". This corresponds exactly to the time it would take for the hyper-fine rays emitted by a caesium-133 nucleus in its basic state to vibrate exactly 9,192,631,770 x at the transition between the energetic level and the electron.
The smallest deviation on this dial can deter a watch from counting. Then there are the implications of gravitation, which showed Einstein's specific relativity theories that it can change the speed of time. "Each watch has its own character at the nano second mark - a millionth of a second -" writes Matsakis in an e-mail.
Every watch ticks at certain speeds or slows at certain moments, and generally researchers can fix this using computer aid. "Said this journalist first met the watch at his single-digit age. There' still no way to get the time like this. "According to the sound, Eastern Standard Time, fifteen-hour, nine-minute, exactly.
So I comforted myself with the plain certainty of the watch and the authenticity of her vote. The master watch was there even in the midst of the darkness, constantly, calmly, and offered time to anyone who wanted to hear. Already the name indicates that it could be there forever, ticks all the time and always offers a really good time, always under the same number: 202 762-1401.
Established in 1830 - before the Smithsonian and the nation's laboratories - the observation tower was designed as a repository for the navy's navigation maps and tools, with the task of "determining the position and movement of heavenly objects, the movements of the Earth, and the exact time". In fact, the watch itself is a number of watches that vary, especially according to how many are recalibrated or fixed at a given time.
Accessibility to the watch areas is strictly monitored and they are constructed according to strict ecological tolerances: outside air humidity of 3% and outside air outside air of +/- 0.1°C are maintained. To be more accurate, the most accurate watches are made up of cylindric evacuated compartments each containing rubber atom coated to the lowest possible cold operating point (one milestone above Kelvin to be exact).
It is considered to be the world's most precise, functioning, continuous chronometer. From the way in which the advance sciences are carried out to the payment of the rental fee, the master watch is indispensable for the functioning of all sorts of things. Don't let the "clock" part deceive you. It'?s not just about time.
It'?s about the room. Whether you use a sixthant or an iPhone, your exact positioning in outer space will depend on whether you know the exact time at your orbit. Spacecraft, 32 and more, have been brought there by the US Army since the 1980' s; each is equipped with its own space-hardened nuclear watch, daily recalibrated against the master one.
If you compare the double time a message was sent from one of these spacecraft in outer space with the time it was sent from your Earth based Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, your telephone can determine how far away each spacecraft is. Doing this with more than one spacecraft enables your global positioning system to treangulate its position on Earth and time.
In order to get an exact position, it is important to get an exact time. Turning off a geosatellite by a millionth of a second puts your geosatellite one step away. Had the astronomical instrument been adjusted by a full second, your position on Google Maps would be about two third of the way to the moon.
We have many other grounds for specifying an exact time, but we can' t know them all. And the master clock also keeps time for a variety of other tactical operations: UAVs fly, rockets target, safe communication and other clandestine things. This means that not all time is the same: the more critically you are for America's domestic safety (say, you're a Navy SEAL or a UAV rocket), the more precisely you may need to know the time or your whereabouts.
"Beginning with the initial localization of a menace, through the placement of a gun on the targeted area, to the evaluation of the effectiveness of this operation, everyone is influenced by the accuracy of time," said John G. Grimes, Chief Information Officer of the Navy, in 2008. At the moment, however, GPS with its master clock is a key component of timekeeping, even in Moscow and Beijing.
GPS satellites give many of the world's population time. If somehow GPS time distribution ceased to work, "many things would collapse," from mobile phone to finance market, Matsakis said. There' ve been some [attacks]... we think about it all the time. Vice versa, GPS could be used as a back-up system if the master clock (and an alternate master clock in Boulder, Colorado) were damaged in a terror raid, for example.
" Nevertheless, without the master clock for calibration, the GPS satellite watches would slowly be drifting according to the laws of specific theory of relativeity. "I' m sure if the master clock went off for 24hrs. "The master clock on Matsakis' clock fell out at three unhappy times: twice while he was aboard a plane, and once at his son's marriage.
However, the back-up watches kept the networking time signals intact, and while some people were experiencing "outages," they were able to manage this until the master watch was recovered about six hours later. Safety is not only physical: there is a "very real" worry that the watch could be the object of a cyber attack.
Matsakis remembered that in 1997, "a time back in the twentieth century", he established a web site. NTP server that forward the time to the web received a fast flow of queries, many ten thousand packages per second. In order to give the time to the rest of the planet, the NTP server of the Naval Observatory lives outside this area.
As the master clock knows, time stood still for 3 million customers. "It is the first time in 17 years that we have discontinued NTP operations," Schmidt said that evening. He said, "The master clock itself was never really assaulted, but we keep thinking about it. "Fear of safety illustrates why the capacity to preserve time is only as good as its capacity to spread it throughout the universe; like time and place, preservation and spreading are inseparably linked.
In 1845, the time signalling system of the observatory was a "time sphere" based on the state-of-the-art cupola technique of its astronomical observatory. As Washington's residents dropped the bal every morning at exactly midday, they could adjust their timers while the Potomac River vessels could adjust their watches before setting sail.
The Observatory began in 1865 to send a time message via cable to the Ministry of the Navy and finally via Western Union routes to railways throughout the country. Until 1885, it was the railway industry that would manage to standardize US time in time zone; until then, time was dependent on the town in which one was located:
Much of the cutting-edge research is carried out by USIST, while USNO concentrates on timing and spreading time to the army to ensure domestic safety. USNO and as well as other NISTs transmit time via spacecraft to defence and business customers through a dual path system based on terrestrial spacecraft to accurately compensate for communications delay.
Then there is the reassuring time recording line of the master clock. Just like the mechanisms of our contemporary watches, which reflect those of the timepieces that were first invented in the tenth centuries, the concept of a second is a kind of tradition. On the basis of the suns' own definitions of a second 1/86,400 of each passing day, parishioners, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), which is itself part of the UN, has established a norm founded on the more robust measures of nuclear physics: when the electron of an intact caesium atoms moves from one plane of energies to the next, it is known that it emits 9,192,631,770 vibrations per second.
According to the BIPM, the time needed was the nearest to the prior one-second definition: "the fractions 1/31,556,925. In 9747 of the tropic year for 1900 January 0 at 12 hour ephemeral time. "Nuclear watches came into use quickly after their birth in 1955. Caesium seconds were specified in 1967 by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM); today there are over two hundred caesium nuclear watches distributed in about fifty labs around the world.
Using special time-scale algorithm computer sofware developed to exploit the strengths of each kind of watch and take into consideration the static generated by the comparison - the world's timepieces transmit their time to the BIPM, which calculates it on average and posts it every month in its magazine Circular T. This number is what is known as Coordinated Universal Time or ATC.
Prior to that, the United Kingdom's Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was the most widely used global system initially designed to coordinate time over the vessels and railways of the world's greatest imperium. However, as soon as nuclear time was put into use, the GMT was counted. Researchers already knew that nuclear time was far more stabile than the time given by the speed of the Earth's orbit.
From the master clock's contributions to ATC - about a third of the mean - to the predominance of GPS, the US has become the world's leading timepiece. The perhaps only true issue with a singular "universal" time is to get everyone, everywhere, to accept it. Luckily, even though spaces and computer networks are becoming more and more competitive, time has relatively always stayed a peace.
Apart from a conflict between one of the world's contemporary superpowers, Mataskis sees a more just way of preserving time. Decisions by other nationalities to use equivalent satellites indicate that de facto time can ultimately become a better mean of the main watches of different nationalities. "The time I can think of would be appreciated in 50 years - when the worlds are so connected that the watches immediately merge in a real-time situation," he said.
And I could see a huge crucible of time. This will increase the length of our sunny day. Once nuclear time and world time were synchronised in early 1958, they began to move apart. Our oldest "clock", the marks of the moon, drifted very slow out of the time of the atom.
Greenwich Mean Time's timepieces were converted to Coordinated Universal Time, and after much discussion they reached an agreement on another new regulation to resolve the problem: the inclusion of "leap seconds", which would be added to Universal Time at random distances to reconcile nuclear time with sun time.
Slower Earth rotations mean that we have to keep increasing the number of seconds the watch leaps into. Sometime in the next hundred years, a leak second will be needed every year. Until the year 2600 is rolling around, three or four milliseconds are needed each year; up to 4300, Earth's timepieces could need every six months to be able to count milliseconds.
Suggestion would leave LTC just as it is, 35 seconds behind nuclear time, with no more leap-seconds. Until the end of the 21. st this would mean that the time on our watches and the sun time would expire by a little less than a second. Enemies have described the abolition of the lease second as a burdensome civilian time-keeping expense that would require a huge review of the entire global computer codes for space, and have argued that it would significantly disrupt the way time is perceived by terrestrial beings.
Russians have said that they are worried that the lost of new lease seconds could affect their spacecraft resources and their GPS-like GLONASS system. United Kingdom opponents are worried that "without second switching, we will at some point loose the connection between time and people's daily experiences of work and play around the clock," said Science Secretary David Willetts.
Since a new time tag would gradually deviate from Greenwich Mean Time, some have proposed that the adoption of a new time tag would also be a slap in the face of British nationality glory. Matsakis said the question contradicts the idea of timekeepers as an ordered political group. Prior to the conversion, the Naval Observatory bought an alternative time-averaged computer for the opportunity, month before the turn of the year, and tried it out by moving its watches forward.
They' re changing the cipher right in there,' he said. "The time on the USNO homepage was a hundred years less for only 45 min, which was apparently enough time for a Washington Post journalist to note and compose a history for the next day's newspaper. "At present, only the vibrations of the radiations of a caesium atoms are part of the formal defined time, but more accurate watches are already being used to indicate possible further interpretations.
In order to better tune the master watch and keep pace with new precision defaults such as the new GPS III protocols, Matsakis and his co-workers are now using a watch named the Wasserstoffmaser, a 500-pound engine that looks like a powerful Star Wars utilitarian robotic that uses microwave stimulated hydrocarbons to read the time.
Besides about 80 caesium watches, the USNO has about 40 burls and four watches that use rubber. Its most recent caesium watch was built in 2000; about half of the burls date back to this age. "Matsakis said, "The watches themselves can last forever, but they need repair.
Meaning the values measured by all the watches, the Naval Observatory's timekeepers can generate a time whose rates, according to the website, "do not vary from 1 to 100 pico seconds (0,000,000,000,000,000 seconds) per passing second. Just the most robust watches are contained in the mean, basing on the actual power.
When you are on the web, you can find out how many of the observatory watches are weighed this time. Humans are always working on making better watches, and many auspicious design have worked well in test time. A caesium watch was launched in the UK in 2011 as the world's most precise long-term timepiece after researchers discovered that the watch would loose or win less than a second in 138 million years.
Yet these watches are already obsolete. Whilst watches using caesium are known to be dependable over a long period of time, in the near future they are not as precise as timekeepers using other items such as hydro carbons, quicksilver and silicon, and a relatively new mechanisms commonly referred to as " wells ".
" An excuse to make better watches is simple: to meet a benchmark that the outside meets. "Selling watches is as good as the watches we built in the lab 20 years ago, and they're used everywhere," said Steven Jefferts, a NIST physicist and senior NIST-F2 design engineer.
Accurate watches like these may not alter how we display tomorrow's time, but like many science tools, they hold out the prospect of innovative ideas. Mr. Johnson said that the new watch "will be the forerunner for something that is really important in ten years. "The measurement of the ambient conditions that slightly alter the ticks of an atomic timepiece allows researchers to use these chronometers to chart magnet and gravity field, for example.
One day, watches could be used for a wide range of precision-based tasks, among them mine work, volcanic and seismic forecasting, heart and cerebral imagery, and even sophisticated radar monitoring devices. Last May, DARPA-funded scientists at NIST presented an "optical grating clock" that uses laser beams to stimulate atoms of the scarce ground mineral, Ytterbium, whose vibrations can help to subdivide time frames into ever smaller increments.
Supposedly, the watch is tenfold better than its predecessor; if it had begun to tick at Big Bang, about 13. "It is our goal to have a watch that would not have missed a second during the whole era of the univers. "We can see in ten years demands that will need better watches," said Matsakis, especially "space-related" technology and more precise positioning systems.
"That'?s why the Navy's funding us to make better watches. "At least now, the master clock is the most accurate continuous-motion system ever built to record anything. The Naval Observatory in Colorado in February equipped the master clock with several all new well dials using the rubber elements.
It is so sensitive that the installation necessitated an "air-slide lift" - basically an air-cushion vehicle - to make sure it did not come into direct contact with the ground or partitions. Matsakis says that the master watch is now based on up to four robidium wells, making it, at least for the moment, "the most accurate continuous system ever built to record something.
" The observatory houses an exhibition of historic watches, and if he passes by, Matsakis can put the cost of his latest watches into context. "We' ve got a Cummins mid-18th-century watch in there. We' ve got over a hundred watches now. During the Song period, the emperor used a watch.
" Scientists are also designing nuclear timepieces that need even fewer human beings and take up much less time. State-of-the-art yotterbium grid timepiece designed by National Institutes of Standards and Technology research scientists. What's time? Eventually the big issue of time came up.
"I once had this notion of time that it is a co-ordinate from which one can gauge development in a self-contained system," said Matsakis. "Now I see time as something that, reduced to the essential, is a yardstick for interaction," an notion that is rooted in Einstein's philosophy of relativeity, which links time and place to the movement of object.
"It' s a fascinating thought: if you don't have interaction, time is not relevant. "lt provides an example that begins at the end of time. "is if the universes could achieve a deadly end. How can you have time for everything at the same time? There'?d be nothing to gauge time for.
The time would stop, and not with a smack. "It is the relatively interdependent effects that determine the motion of time that account for why things in the cosmos do not simply follow a time axis. Perhaps they were right that he corrupted young people. They were Aristotle's peers who dominated the computation of the course of time, the chronicle, and they were also the ones who recognised a different kind of time, Cairo - the moment that defines our joys and our pain and our most profound emotions and thoughts.
That is, the kind of time that no watch can measure. Between this feeling of "time", which Henri Bergson would later call "duration", and the ticks of "time", which are monitored by time-keepers, there remain strains. More now than ever, Douglas Rushkoff argued in Present Shock, deflections holding the latter versions of time in a kind of tug-of-war against the former.
"We' ve been spending hundreds of years remembering time and seconds as segments of the day," Rushkoff said to David Pescovitz last year, "but a single digit second is less a part of a larger moment than of an absolutely long one and hangs there like a number key on an old digitally-watch. "The intoxication of the present and its apparently endless, hyper-connected potentials mean "a reduction of everything that does not happen at the moment - and the run on everything that is supposed to be".
" Wheeler was joking. It's not all at once, according to the time. I asked myself, could the master clock, with its even, ordered tempo, remember us that the earth does not move more quickly? New watches are changing the way time is numbered. And, with time, the definition of time will also shift, if not the issues that surround it forever.
"Matsakis said, "What I'm telling them is that I can't tell you what time it is, but I can tell you what a second is.