atomic clock

noun

Definition of atomic clock

: a precision clock that depends for its operation on an electrical oscillator regulated by the natural vibration frequencies of an atomic system (such as a beam of cesium atoms)

Examples of atomic clock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This theory is borne out by the (rather freaky) fact that clocks on the space shuttle—whether internal clocks or atomic clocks placed aboard for experimental purposes—run more slowly than reference clocks on Earth. Popular Mechanics, "Will We Ever Be Able to Time Travel Into the Past?," 24 Dec. 2018 In the 1950s, atomic clocks revolutionized precision time-keeping. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "A new antenna using single atoms could usher in the age of atomic radio," 19 Sep. 2018 The good news is that by making more of these highly accurate atomic clocks, scientists can use them to provide that kind of resolution across the entire globe. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Our New Atomic Clock Is So Precise That We Need a Better Understanding of Gravity To Use It," 30 Nov. 2018 Today, there are two main sources of time: a whole bunch of atomic clocks averaged together to produce International Atomic Time, and the astronomical time that comes from measuring how long the earth actually takes to spin on its axis. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Windows 10 will get better at telling time with new leap second support," 19 July 2018 Horologists, those who study and measure time, were busy tinkering with atomic clocks and taking measurements. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Centuries-Long Quest to Measure One Second," 24 Mar. 2017 The measurement is then used to evaluate a suite of commercial atomic clocks, also stored in egg incubation chambers, and give them a weighted grade. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Centuries-Long Quest to Measure One Second," 24 Mar. 2017 Google would later use this method to synchronize computers based on GPS data and atomic clocks to make sure that their database system could correctly order transactions. John Markoff, New York Times, "Time Split to the Nanosecond Is Precisely What Wall Street Wants," 29 June 2018 Additionally, the time-keeping device on each satellite gives a subtly different reading, the result of variations in their atomic clocks, which tell time by measuring the precise oscillations of an atom. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode in Space," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atomic clock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of atomic clock

1924, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

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The first known use of atomic clock was in 1924

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More Definitions for atomic clock

atomic clock

noun

English Language Learners Definition of atomic clock

: a special kind of clock that is extremely exact

More from Merriam-Webster on atomic clock

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with atomic clock

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about atomic clock

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