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June 17 2013
The ultimate accessory in exact timekeeping — the atomic clock — is set to become even more precise, after ultrashort laser pulses were successfully transmitted across open air to help synchronize the "ticking" of new optical atomic clocks.
Keeping extremely precise time is not just a question of scientific achievement. It is a key to many modern technologies, from Global Positioning Systems (GPS)to mobile phone networks and broadcasters' transmitters. For GPS systems, an error of just one nanosecond, or a billionth of a second, would mean the location is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) off.
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