By: April Carson
A tiny time warp has been detected across a tiny distance, showing that Albert Einstein's principle of general relativity is correct.
Clocks run faster the further they are from the Earth or any other gravitationally-dense object, according to the logic – a fact of nature that should apply no matter how big the clock is and should be apparent at the atomic level.
A group of scientists in Japan have now detected a slowing of time at a smaller, millimetre-sized sample of atoms. At the top of the sample and at the bottom, time moved slightly slower at the top than it did at the bottom. This clock has been used to document this effect in hundreds of people who wear glasses with colored lenses, which slightly speed up one type of atomic motion and slow down another.
The size of the effect is so tiny, about 0.000044 seconds every hour – that it has no practical application: an astronaut would not gain or lose a second because of this effect. But it does allow scientists to test general relativity at its very limits – something that only the most accurate of clocks can do.
Atoms can be used as clocks since their energy levels change depending on the precise frequency of light; this rate serves as the equivalent to a clock's ticking hand. Atom energy levels change more slowly than those above ground, therefore a higher frequency of light is required to alter them.
Previously, this change in wavelength, known as gravitational redshift, was seen at a height of 33 centimeters.
“This is amazing,” theoretical physicist Marianna Safronova of the University of Delaware added. “I had my doubts that we would ever get here.”
Jun Ye, a physicist at the University of Colorado's Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, utilized a clock built of 100,000 ultracold strontium atoms in this study, which has not yet been published.
The atoms were stacked in a lattice, with each layer differing by one hundredth of a quadrillionth of a percent from the next. The frequency was mapped as it changed with height, revealing a difference by one hundredth of a quadrillionth of a percent over a millimetre – the effect predicted by general relativity.
The ticking rate, which is the number of times a second that each rotating gear in a pendulum clock ticks, can be calculated to an accuracy of 0.76 millionths of a trillionth percent over 90 hours.
The atomic clock in the University of Colorado at Boulder detects a tiny time warp that may help solve mysteries about the universe. The results are derived from an experiment with 100,000 strontium atoms. Studying this phenomenon can aid our understanding of general relativity and also aid our knowledge on how to find extra-terrestrial life in faraway places in the universe.
“Atomic clocks are now so accurate that they might be used to look for dark matter,” Victor Flambaum of the University of New South Wales told Science News, as the unknown, unidentified substance might influence how the clocks tick. Comparing atomic clocks with different isotopes (the number of neutrons in their nucleus) may also reveal whether the mass of a nucleus is a factor in an atomic clock's ticking rate.
What does this imply for us, though? It's expected that the study, published in Nature, will be able to answer some of the world's most important questions. If dark matter does in fact exist, it could help to explain why galaxies do not fly apart. It has also been linked to the hypothetical particles known as weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) which are believed to be detectable by vast underground experiments currently being conducted.
Another mystery this discovery may unravel is that of gravity. Albert Einstein developed his general relativity theory almost a century ago, but one of its principal elements, the so-called strong equivalence principle, has never been tested. This essentially states that all bodies fall in the same way when subjected to gravity. The atomic clock's tiny time warp could help scientists do this by creating more precise measurements than ever before.
The founder of the Extraterrestrial Evidence, Roderick Martin, will explore UFO sightings with you. Listen to Roderick on the clubhouse.
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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