Time in physics

Time in physics

In physics, the treatment of time is a central issue. It has been treated as a question of geometry. One can measure time and treat it as a geometrical dimension, such as length, and perform mathematical operations on it. It is a scalar quantity and, like length, mass, and charge, is usually listed in most physics books as a fundamental quantity. Time can be combined mathematically with other fundamental quantities to derive other concepts such as motion, energy and fields. Time is largely defined by its measurement in physics. "" is a complex of technological and scientific issues, and part of the foundation of "recordkeeping".! scientific notation
- ! natural units
-! algebra
- ! geometry
- ! vector notation
- ! optics
- ! operators
-! differential equations
- ! partial differential equations
- ! electrical engineering
- ! signal processing

The unit of measurement of time: the second

In the International System of Units (SI), the unit of time is the second (symbol: mathrm{s}). It is a SI base unit, and it is currently defined as "the duration of nowrap|9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom." [cite web
title=Unit of time (second)
work=SI brochure
publisher=International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM)

The state of the art in timekeeping

! Measurement
- ! Scientific notation
- ! Natural units The UTC timestamp in use worldwide is an atomic time standard. The relative accuracy of such a time standard is currently on the order of 10−15 [ [http://tf.nist.gov/general/pdf/1823.pdf S. R. Jefferts et al., "Accuracy evaluation of NIST-F1".] ] (corresponding to 1 second in approximately 30 million years). The smallest time step considered observable is called the Planck time, which is approximately 5.391×10−44 seconds - many orders of magnitude below the resolution of current time standards.

Conceptions of time

Both Galileo and Newton and most people up until the 20th century thought that time was the same for everyone everywhere. This is the basis for s, where time is a parameter. Our modern conception of time is based on Einstein's theory of relativity, in which rates of time run differently depending on relative motion, and space and time are merged into spacetime, where we live on a world line rather than a timeline. Thus time is part of a coordinate, in this view. Physicists believe the entire Universe and therefore time itself began about 13.7 billion years ago in the big bang. (See Time in Cosmology below) Whether it will ever come to an end is an open question. (See philosophy of physics.)

Regularities in nature

In order to measure time, one can record the number of occurrences (events) of some periodic phenomenon. The regular recurrences of the seasons, the motions of the sun, moon and stars were noted and tabulated for millennia, before the laws of physics were formulated. The sun was the arbiter of the flow of time, but time was known only to the hour, for millennia. The gnomon was known across Eurasia, at least as far southward as the jungles of Southeast Asia. [Fred Hoyle (1955), "Frontiers of Astronomy". New York: Harper & Brothers ]

:I farm the land from which I take my food.:I watch the sun rise and sun set.:Kings can ask no more.-- as quoted by Joseph Needham "Science and Civilisation in China"

In particular, the astronomical observatories maintained for religious purposes became accurate enough to ascertain the regular motions of the stars, and even some of the planets.

At first, timekeeping was done by hand by priests, and then for commerce, with watchmen to note time as part of their duties.The tabulation of the equinoxes, the sandglass, and the water clock became more and more accurate, and finally reliable. For ships at sea, boys were used to turn the sandglasses and to call the hours.

Mechanical clocks

Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336), abbot of St. Alban's abbey, famously built a mechanical clock as an astronomical orrery about 1330. [North, J. (2004) "God's Clockmaker: Richard of Wallingford and the Invention of Time". Oxbow Books. ISBN 1-85285-451-0] [Watson, E (1979) "The St Albans Clock of Richard of Wallingford". "Antiquarian Horology" 372-384.]

By the time of Richard of Wallingford, the use of ratchets and gears allowed the towns of Europe to create mechanisms to display the time on their respective town clocks; by the time of the scientific revolution, the clocks became miniaturized enough for families to share a personal clock, or perhaps a pocket watch. At first, only kings could afford them. Pendulum clocks were widely used in the 18th and 19th century. They have largely been replaced in general use by quartz and digital clocks. Atomic clocks can theoretically keep accurate time for millions of years. They are appropriate for standards and scientific use.

Galileo: the flow of time

In 1583, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) discovered that a pendulum's harmonic motion has a constant period, which he learned by timing the motion of a swaying lamp in harmonic motion at mass at the cathedral of Pisa, with his pulse. [Jo Ellen Barnett, "Time's Pendulum" ISBN 0-306-45787-3 p.99.]

In his "Two New Sciences" (1638), Galileo used a water clock to measure the time taken for a bronze ball to roll a known distance down an inclined plane; this clock was :"a large vessel of water placed in an elevated position; to the bottom of this vessel was soldered a pipe of small diameter giving a thin jet of water, which we collected in a small glass during the time of each descent, whether for the whole length of the channel or for a part of its length; the water thus collected was weighed, after each descent, on a very accurate balance; the differences and ratios of these weights gave us the differences and ratios of the times, and this with such accuracy that although the operation was repeated many, many times, there was no appreciable discrepancy in the results."Galileo 1638 "Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno á due nuoue scienze" 213, Leida, Appresso gli Elsevirii (Louis Elsevier), or "Mathematical discourses and demonstrations, relating to Two New Sciences", English translation by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Salvio 1914. Section 213 is reprinted on pages 534-535 of "On the Shoulders of Giants":The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy (works by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein). Stephen Hawking, ed. 2002 ISBN 0-7624-1348-4]

Galileo's experimental setup to measure the literal "flow of time", in order to describe the motion of a ball, preceded Isaac Newton's statement in his Principia::"I do not define time, space, place and motion, as being well known to all."Newton 1687 "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica", Londini, Jussu Societatis Regiae ac Typis J. Streater, or "The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", London, English translation by Andrew Motte 1700s. From part of the Scholium, reprinted on page 737 of "On the Shoulders of Giants":The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy (works by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein). Stephen Hawking, ed. 2002 ISBN 0-7624-1348-4]

The Galilean transformations assume that time is the same for all reference frames.

Newton's physics: linear time

In or around 1665, when Isaac Newton (1643-1727) derived the motion of objects falling under gravity, the first clear formulation for mathematical physics of a treatment of time began: linear time, conceived as a "universal clock".

:"Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature flows equably without regard to anything external, and by another name is called duration: relative, apparent, and common time, is some sensible and external (whether accurate or unequable) measure of duration by the means of motion, which is commonly used instead of true time; such as an hour, a day, a month, a year."Newton 1687 page 738.] The water clock mechanism described by Galileo was engineered to provide laminar flow of the water during the experiments, thus providing a constant flow of water for the durations of the experiments, and embodying what Newton called "duration".

In this section, the relationships listed below treat time as a parameter which serves as an "index" to the behavior of the physical system under consideration. Because Newton's fluents treat a "linear flow of time" (what he called "mathematical time"), time could be considered to be a linearly varying parameter, an abstraction of the march of the hours on the face of a clock. Calendars and ship's logs could then be mapped to the march of the hours, days, months, years and centuries.

! differential equations
- ! partial differential equations

Lagrange (1736-1813) would aid in the formulation of a simpler version ["Dynamics is a four-dimensional geometry." --Lagrange (1796), "Thèorie des fonctions analytiques", as quoted by Ilya Prigogine (1996), "The End of Certainty" ISBN 0-684-83705-6 p.58] of Newton's equations. He started with an energy term, L, named the "Lagrangian" in his honor, and formulated "Lagrange's equations":: frac{d}{dt} frac{partial L}{partial dot{ heta - frac{partial L}{partial heta} = 0. The dotted quantities, {dot{ heta denote a function which corresponds to a Newtonian fluxion, whereas heta denote a function which corresponds to a Newtonian fluent. But linear time is the parameter for the relationship between the {dot{ heta and the heta of the physical system under consideration.Some decades later, it was found that the second order equation of Lagrange or Newton can be more easily solved or visualized by suitable transformation to sets of first order differential equations.

Lagrange's equations can be transformed, under a Legendre transformation, to "Hamilton's equations"; the Hamiltonian formulation for the equations of motion of some conjugate variables p,q (for example, momentum p and position q) is: ! Operators
-! Poisson brackets
- :dot p = -frac{partial H}{partial q} = {p,H} = -{H,p} :dot q =~~frac{partial H}{partial p} = {q,H} = -{H,q} in the Poisson bracket notation and clearly shows the dependence of the time variation of conjugate variables p,q on an energy expression.

This relationship, it was to be found, also has corresponding forms in quantum mechanics as well as in the classical mechanics shown above. These relationships bespeak a conception of time which is reversible.

Thermodynamics and the paradox of irreversibility

By 1798, Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814) had discovered that work could be transformed to heat without limit - a precursor of the conservation of energy or
*1st law of thermodynamics In 1824 Sadi Carnot (1796-1832) scientifically analyzed the steam engines with his Carnot cycle, an abstract engine. Rudolf Clausius (1822–1888) noted a measure of disorder, or entropy, which affects the continually decreasing amount of free energy which is available to a Carnot engine in the:
*2nd law of thermodynamics Thus the continual march of a thermodynamic system, from lesser to greater entropy, at any given temperature, defines an arrow of time. In particular, Stephen Hawking identifies three arrows of time: pp. 182-195. Stephen Hawking 1996. "The Illustrated Brief History of Time": updated and expanded edition ISBN 0-553-10374-1]
*Psychological arrow of time - our perception of an inexorable flow.
*Thermodynamic arrow of time - distinguished by the growth of entropy.
*Cosmological arrow of time - distinguished by the expansion of the universe.

Entropy is maximum in an isolated thermodynamic system, and increases. In contrast, Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961) pointed out that life depends on a "negative entropy flow". [Erwin Schrödinger (1945) "What is Life?"] Ilya Prigogine (1917–2003) stated that other thermodynamic systems which, like life, are also far from equilibrium, can also exhibit stable spatio-temporal structures. Soon afterward, the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reactions [G. Nicolis and I. Prigogine (1989), "Exploring Complexity"] were reported, which demonstrate oscillating colors in a chemical solution. [R. Kapral and K. Showalter, eds. (1995), "Chemical Waves and Patterns"] These nonequilibrium thermodynamic branches reach a "bifurcation point", which is unstable, and another thermodynamic branch becomes stable in its stead. [Ilya Prigogine (1996) "The End of Certainty" pp. 63-71]

Electromagnetism and the speed of light

In 1864, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) presented a combined theory of electricity and magnetism. He combined all the laws then known relating to those two phenomenon into four equations. These vector calculus equations which use the del operator ( abla) are known as Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism. In free space (that is, space not containing electric charges), the equations take the form (using SI units):

! vector notation
- ! partial differential equations : abla imes mathbf{E} = -frac{partial mathbf{B{partial t}

: abla imes mathbf{B} = mu_0 epsilon_0 frac{partial mathbf{E{partial t} = frac{1}{c^2} frac{partial mathbf{E{partial t}

: abla cdot mathbf{E} = 0

: abla cdot mathbf{B} = 0

where:"ε"0 and "μ"0 are the electric permittivity and the magnetic permeability of free space;:"c" = 1/sqrt{epsilon_0 mu_0} is the speed of light in free space, 299 792 458 m/s;:E is the electric field;:B is the magnetic field.

These equations allow for solutions in the form of electromagnetic waves. The wave is formed by an electric field and a magnetic field oscillating together, perpendicular to each other and to the direction of propagation. These waves always propagate at the speed of light "c", regardless of the velocity of the electric charge that generated them.

The fact that light is predicted to always travel at speed "c" would be incompatible with Galilean relativity if Maxwell's equations were assumed to hold in any inertial frame (reference frame with constant velocity), because the Galilean transformations predict the speed to decrease (or increase) in the reference frame of an observer traveling parallel (or antiparallel) to the light.

It was expected that there was one absolute reference frame, that of the luminiferous aether, in which Maxwell's equations held unmodified in the known form.

The Michelson-Morley experiment failed to detect any difference in the relative speed of light due to the motion of the Earth relative to the luminiferous aether, suggesting that Maxwell's equations did, in fact, hold in all frames. In 1875, Hendrik Lorentz (1853-1928) discovered Lorentz transformations, which left Maxwell's equations unchanged, allowing Michelson and Morley's negative result to be explained. Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) noted the importance of Lorentz' transformation and popularized it. In particular, the railroad car description can be found in "Science and Hypothesis", [Henri Poincaré, (1902). "Science and Hypothesis" [http://spartan.ac.brocku.ca/~lward/Poincare/Poincare_1905_toc.html Eprint] ] which was published before Einstein's articles of 1905.

The Lorentz transformation predicted space contraction and time dilation; until 1905, the former was interpreted as a physical contraction of objects moving with respect to the aether, due to the modification of the intermolecular forces (of electric nature), while the latter was thought to be just a mathematical stipulation. Fact|date=May 2008

Einstein's physics: spacetime

:"Main articles: special relativity" (1905), "general relativity" (1915).

Albert Einstein's 1905 special relativity challenged the notion of absolute time, and could only formulate a definition of synchronization for clocks that mark a linear flow of time:Quote|If at the point A of space there is a clock, an observer at A can determine thetime values of events in the immediate proximity of A by finding the positionsof the hands which are simultaneous with these events. If there is at the point Bof space another clock in all respects resembling the one at A, it is possible foran observer at B to determine the time values of events in the immediate neighbourhood of B. But it is not possible without further assumption to compare,in respect of time, an event at A with an event at B. We have so far definedonly an "A time" and a "B time." We have not defined a common "time" forA and B, for the latter cannot be defined at all unless we establish "by definition"that the "time" required by light to travel from A to B equals the "time" itrequires to travel from B to A. Let a ray of light start at the "A time" "t"A fromA towards B, let it at the "B time" "t"B be reflected at B in the direction of A,and arrive again at A at the “A time” "t"′A.

In accordance with definition the two clocks synchronize if: t_ ext{B} - t_ ext{A} = t'_ ext{A} - t_ ext{B} ext{.},!

We assume that this definition of synchronism is free from contradictions,and possible for any number of points; and that the following relations areuniversally valid:—
#If the clock at B synchronizes with the clock at A, the clock at A synchronizes with the clock at B.
#If the clock at A synchronizes with the clock at B and also with the clock at C, the clocks at B and C also synchronize with each other.
Albert Einstein|"On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" Einstein 1905, "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper" [On the electrodynamics of moving bodies] reprinted 1922 in "Das Relativitätsprinzip", B.G. Teubner, Leipzig. "The Principles of Relativity: A Collection of Original Papers on the Special Theory of Relativity", by H.A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, H. Minkowski, and W. H. Weyl, is part of "Fortschritte der mathematischen Wissenschaften in Monographien, Heft 2". The English translation is by W. Perrett and G.B. Jeffrey, reprinted on page 1169 of "On the Shoulders of Giants":The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy (works by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein). Stephen Hawking, ed. 2002 ISBN 0-7624-1348-4]
Einstein showed that if the speed of light is not changing between reference frames, space and time must be so that the moving observer will measure the same speed of light as the stationary one because velocity is "defined" by space and time:

:mathbf{v}={dmathbf{r}over dt} ext{,} where r is position and "t" is time.

Indeed, the Lorentz transformation (for two reference frames in relative motion, whose "x" axis is directed in the direction of the relative velocity)! algebra
- ! trigonometry :egin{cases}t' &= gamma(t - vx/c^2) ext{ where } gamma = 1/sqrt{1-v^2/c^2} \\ x' &= gamma(x - vt)\\y' &= y \\ z' &= zend{cases}can be said to "mix" space and time in a way similar to the way an Euclidean rotation around the "z" axis mixes "x" and "y" coordinates. Consequences of this include relativity of simultaneity.
thumb|Event B is simultaneous with A in the green reference frame, but it occurredbefore in the blue frame, and will occur later in the red frame. More specifically, the Lorentz transformation is a hyperbolic rotation egin{pmatrix} ct' \\ x'end{pmatrix}=egin{pmatrix} cosh phi & - sinh phi \\ - sinh phi & cosh phi end{pmatrix}

egin{pmatrix} ct \\ xend{pmatrix} ext{ where } phi = operatorname{artanh},frac{v}{c} ext{,} which is a change of coordinates in the four-dimensional Minkowski space, a dimension of which is "ct". (In Euclidean space an ordinary rotation egin{pmatrix} x' \\ y'end{pmatrix}=egin{pmatrix} cos heta & - sin heta \\ sin heta & cos heta end{pmatrix}

egin{pmatrix} x \\ yend{pmatrix} is the corresponding change of coordinates.) The speed of light "c" can be seen as just a conversion factor needed because we measure the dimensions of spacetime in different units; since the metre is currently defined in terms of the second, it has the "exact" value of nowrap|299 792 458 m/s. We would need a similar factor in Euclidean space if, for example, we measured width in nautical miles and depth in feet. In physics, sometimes units of measurement in which "c" = 1 are used to simplify equations.

Time in a "moving" reference frame is shown to run more slowly than in a "stationary" one by the following relation (which can be derived by the Lorentz transformation by putting ∆"x"′ = 0, ∆"τ" = ∆"t"′)::Delta t= Delta au}oversqrt{1 - v^2/c^2where:
*∆"τ" is the time between two events as measured in the moving reference frame in which they occur at the same place (e.g. two ticks on a moving clock); it is called the proper time between the two events;
*∆"t" is the time between these same two events, but as measured in the stationary reference frame;
*"v" is the speed of the moving reference frame relative to the stationary one;
*"c" is the speed of light.

Moving objects therefore are said to "show a slower passage of time". This is known as time dilation.

These transformations are only valid for two frames at "constant" relative velocity. Naively applying them to other situations gives rise to such paradoxes as the twin paradox.

That paradox can be resolved using for instance Einstein's General theory of relativity, which uses Riemannian geometry, geometry in accelerated, noninertial reference frames. Employing the metric tensor which describes Minkowski space:

:left [(dx^1)^2+(dx^2)^2+(dx^3)^2-c(dt)^2) ight] ,

Einstein developed a geometric solution to Lorentz's transformation that preserves Maxwell's equations. His field equations give an exact relationship between the measurements of space and time in a given region of spacetime and the energy density of that region.

Einstein's equations predict that time should be altered by the presence of gravitational fields (see the Schwarzschild metric):

:T=frac{dt}{sqrt{left( 1 - frac{2GM}{rc^2} ight ) dt^2 - frac{1}{c^2}left ( 1 - frac{2GM}{rc^2} ight )^{-1} dr^2 - frac{r^2}{c^2} d heta^2 - frac{r^2}{c^2} sin^2 heta ; dphi^2


:T is the gravitational time dilation of an object at a distance of r.

:dt is the change in coordinate time, or the interval of coordinate time.

:G is the gravitational constant

:M is the mass generating the field

:sqrt{left( 1 - frac{2GM}{rc^2} ight ) dt^2 - frac{1}{c^2}left ( 1 - frac{2GM}{rc^2} ight )^{-1} dr^2 - frac{r^2}{c^2} d heta^2 - frac{r^2}{c^2} sin^2 heta ; dphi^2} is the change in proper time d au, or the interval of proper time.

Or one could use the following simpler approximation:

:frac{dt}{d au} = frac{1}{ sqrt{1 - left( frac{2GM}{rc^2} ight)

Time runs slower the stronger the gravitational field, and hence acceleration, is. The predictions of time dilation are confirmed by particle acceleration experiments and cosmic ray evidence, where moving particles decay slower than their less energetic counterparts. Gravitational time dilation gives rise to the phenomenon of gravitational redshift and delays in signal travel time near massive objects such as the sun. The Global Positioning System must also adjust signals to account for this effect.

Einstein's theory was motivated by the assumption that every point in the universe can be treated as a 'center', and that correspondingly, physics must act the same in all reference frames. His simple and elegant theory shows that time is relative to an inertial frame. In an inertial frame, Newton's first law holds; it has its own local geometry, and therefore its "own" measurements of space and time; "there is no 'universal clock"'. An act of synchronization must be performed between two systems, at the least.

Time in quantum mechanics

There is a time parameter in the equations of quantum mechanics. The Schrödinger equation E. Schrödinger, Phys. Rev. 28 1049 (1926)] is

! physics
- ! quantum mechanics : H(t) left| psi (t) ight angle = i hbar {partialoverpartial t} left| psi (t) ight angleOne solution can be: | psi_e(t) angle = e^{-iHt / hbar} | psi_e(0) angle .where e^{-iHt / hbar} is a Wick rotation (in the complex plane), and "H" is the scalar Hamiltonian.

But the Schrödinger picture shown above is equivalent to the Heisenberg picture, which enjoys a similarity to the Poisson brackets of classical mechanics. The Poisson brackets are superseded by a nonzero commutator, say [H,A] for observable A, and Hamiltonian H:

:frac{d}{dt}A=(ihbar)^{-1} [A,H] +left(frac{partial A}{partial t} ight)_mathrm{classical}.

This equation denotes an uncertainty relation in quantum physics. For example, with "time" (the observable A), the "energy" E (from the Hamiltonian H) gives:

:Delta E Delta T ge frac{hbar}{2} :where:Delta E is the uncertainty in energy:Delta T is the uncertainty in time:hbar is Planck's constantThe more precisely one measures the duration of a sequence of events the less precisely one can measure the energy associated with that sequence and vice versa. This equation is different from the standard uncertainty principle because time is not an operator in quantum mechanics.

Corresponding commutator relations also hold for momentum "p" and position "q", which are conjugate variables of each other, along with a corresponding uncertainty principle in momentum and position, similar to the energy and time relation above.

Quantum mechanics explains the properties of the periodic table of the elements. Starting with Otto Stern's and Walter Gerlach's experiment with molecular beams in a magnetic field, Isidor Rabi (1898-1988), was able to modulate the magnetic resonance of the beam. In 1945 Rabi then suggested that this technique be the basis of a clock [ [http://tf.nist.gov/timefreq/cesium/atomichistory.htm A Brief History of Atomic Clocks at NIST] ] using the resonant frequency of an atomic beam.

John Cramer [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/292378_timeguy15.html is preparing an experiment] to determine whether quantum entanglement is also nonlocal in time as it is in space. This can also be stated as 'sending a signal back in time'. Cramer has recently published an [http://faculty.washington.edu/jcramer/Nonlocal_2007.pdf update] indicating that the final experiment will take more time to prepare.

Dynamical systems

See dynamical systems and chaos theory, dissipative structures

One could say that time is a parameterization of a dynamical system that allows the geometry of the system to be manifested and operated on. It has been asserted that "time is an implicit consequence of chaos" (i.e. nonlinearity/irreversibility): the characteristic time, or rate of information entropy production, of a system. Mandelbrot introduces intrinsic time in his book "Multifractals and 1/f noise".


! electrical engineering
- ! signal processing

Signalling is one application of the electromagnetic waves described above. In general, a signal is part of communication between parties and places. One example might be a yellow ribbon tied to a tree, or the ringing of a church bell. A signal can be part of a conversation, which involves a protocol. Another signal might be the position of the hour hand on a town clock or a railway station. An interested party might wish to view that clock, to learn the time. See: Time ball, an early form of Time signal.
world line of an accelerated massive particle. This worldline is restricted to the timelike top and bottom sections of this spacetime figure and can not cross the top (future) nor the bottom (past) light cone. The left and right sections, outside the light cones are spacelike.] We as observers can still signal different parties and places as long as we live within their "past" light cone. But we cannot receive signals from those parties and places outside our "past" light cone.

Along with the formulation of the equations for the electromagnetic wave, the field of telecommunication could be founded. In 19th century telegraphy, electrical circuits, some spanning continents and oceans, could transmit codes - simple dots, dashes and spaces. From this, a series of technical issues have emerged; see . But it is safe to say that our signalling systems can be only approximately synchronized, a plesiochronous condition, from which jitter need be eliminated.

That said, systems "can" be synchronized (at an engineering approximation), using technologies like GPS. The GPS satellites must account for the effects of gravitation and other relativistic factors in their circuitry. See: Self-clocking signal.

Technology for timekeeping standards

The primary time standard in the U.S. is currently NIST-F1, a laser-cooled Cs fountain, [D. M. Meekhof, S. R. Jefferts, M. Stepanovíc, and T. E. Parker (2001) "Accuracy Evaluation of a Cesium Fountain Primary Frequency Standard at NIST", "IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement". 50, no. 2, (April 2001) pp. 507-509] the latest in a series of time and frequency standards, from the ammonia-based atomic clock (1949) to the caesium-based NBS-1 (1952) to NIST-7 (1993). The respective clock uncertainty declined from 10,000 nanoseconds/day to 0.5 nanoseconds/day in 5 decades. [ James Jespersen and Jane Fitz-Randolph (1999). "From sundials to atomic clocks : understanding time and frequency". Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology. 308 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.ISBN 0-16-050010-9] In 2001 the clock uncertainty for NIST-F1 was 0.1 nanoseconds/day. Development of increasingly accurate frequency standards is underway.

In this time and frequency standard, a population of caesium atoms is laser-cooled to temperatures of one-millionth Kelvin. The atoms collect in a ball shaped by six lasers, two for each spatial dimension, vertical (up/down), horizontal (left/right), and back/forth. The vertical lasers push the caesium ball through a microwave cavity. As the ball is cooled, the caesium population cools to its ground state and emits light at its natural frequency, stated in the definition of "second" above. Eleven physical effects are accounted for in the emissions from the caesium population, which are then controlled for in the NIST-F1 clock. These results are reported to BIPM.

Additionally, a reference hydrogen maser is also reported to BIPM as a frequency standard for TAI (international atomic time).

The measurement of time is overseen by BIPM ("Bureau International des Poids et Mesures"), located in Sèvres, France, which ensures uniformity of measurements and their traceability to the International System of Units (SI) world-wide. BIPM operates under authority of the "Convention du Metre", a diplomatic treaty between fifty-one nations, the Member States of the Convention, through a series of Consultative Committees, whose members are the respective national metrology laboratories.

Time in cosmology

The equations of general relativity predict a non-static universe. However, Einstein accepted only a static universe, and modified the Einstein field equation to reflect this by adding the cosmological constant, which he later described as the biggest mistake of his life. But in 1927, Georges LeMaître (1894-1966) argued, on the basis of general relativity, that the universe originated in a primordial explosion. At the fifth Solvay conference, that year, Einstein brushed him off with " _fr. Vos calculs sont corrects, mais votre physique est abominable." [John C. Mather and John Boslough (1996), "The Very First Light" ISBN 0-465-01575-1 p.41. ] In 1929, Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) announced his discovery of the expanding universe. The current generally accepted cosmological model, the Lambda-CDM model, has a positive cosmological constant and thus not only an expanding universe but an accelerating expanding universe.

If the universe were expanding, then it must have been much smaller and therefore hotter and denser in the past. George Gamow (1904-1968) hypothesized that the abundance of the elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements, might be accounted for by nuclear reactions in a hot dense universe. He was disputed by Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), who invented the term 'Big Bang' to disparage it. Fermi and others noted that this process would have stopped after only the light elements were created, and thus did not account for the abundance of heavier elements.Gamow's prediction was a 5–10 kelvin black body radiation temperature for the universe, after it cooled during the expansion. This was corroborated by Penzias and Wilson in 1965. Subsequent experiments arrived at a 2.7 kelvin temperature, corresponding to an age of the universe of 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang.

This dramatic result has raised issues: what happened between the singularity of the Big Bang and the Planck time, which, after all, is the smallest observable time. When might have time separated out from the spacetime foam; [Martin Rees (1997), "Before the Beginning" ISBN 0-201-15142-1 p.210] there are only hints based on broken symmetries (see Spontaneous symmetry breaking, Timeline of the Big Bang, and the articles in ).

General relativity gave us our modern notion of the expanding universe that started in the big bang. Using relativity and quantum theory we have been able to roughly reconstruct the history of the universe. In our epoch, during which electromagnetic waves can propagate without being disturbed by conductors or charges, we can see the stars, at great distances from us, in the night sky. (Before this epoch, there was a time, 300,000 years after the big bang, during which starlight would not have been visible.)


Ilya Prigogine's reprise is "Time precedes existence". He contrasts the views of Newton, Einstein and quantum physics which offer a symmetric view of time (as discussed above) with his own views, which point out that statistical and thermodynamic physics can explain irreversible phenomena [Prigogine, Ilya (1996), "The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature". ISBN 0-684-83705-6 On pages 163 and 182. ] as well as the arrow of time and the Big Bang.

ee also

* Relativistic dynamics


Further reading

* Boorstein, Daniel J., "The Discoverers". Vintage. February 12, 1985. ISBN 0-394-72625-1
* Kuhn, Thomas S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". ISBN 0-226-45808-3
* Mandelbrot, Benoît, "Multifractals and 1/f noise". Springer Verlag. February 1999. ISBN 0-387-98539-5
* Prigogine, Ilya (1984), "Order out of Chaos". ISBN 0-394-54204-5
* Serres, Michel, et al., "Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time (Studies in Literature and Science)". March, 1995. ISBN 0-472-06548-3
* Stengers, Isabelle, and Ilya Prigogine, "Theory Out of Bounds". University of Minnesota Press. November 1997. ISBN 0-8166-2517-4

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