Questions for “Nuclear clocks are nearly here”

illustration of a nuclear clock

Physicists are trying to build a brand-new type of clock (shown in this artist’s illustration). Called a nuclear clock, it would be based on the physics of atoms’ hearts — and keep time better than today’s most precise clocks.

TU Wien

To accompany “Nuclear clocks are nearly here


Before Reading:

1.  What is the most precise clock on Earth today?

During Reading:

1.  According to the story, what does the acronym GOAT stand for?

2.  Compared to the best clocks today, how much more accurate could a nuclear clock be?

3.  What is one reason Adriana Pálffy thinks that these clocks would be more stable and accurate than atomic clocks?

4.  What is the fundamental timepiece on which a nuclear clock would be based (i.e., what is being measured by the clock)?

5.  Two “clock” developers are using what they call a frequency comb. What is it and how does it differ from the electronic bridge that Pálffy’s group hopes to use?

6.  What are at least two research tasks that scientists might use the new type of clock to investigate?

After Reading:

1.  Much of science depends on using units of measure to count things. Name four things scientists rely on clocks to measure now. If these researchers’ clocks were off by a millionth of a second — or even half a second — would that likely matter for the uses you cited? Explain why or why not.