Science

Universal time unit may be larger than imagined

Even if tiny, the ticks of the clock in the universe itself are large enough to be calculated based on the theories currently available

Time is still a mystery. Within the studies of physics, two major theories diverge about how time happens: while quantum mechanics treats time as a parameter that flows at a constant rate without stopping, relativity says that time can contract and expand for two observers if moving at different speeds. Now, a new theory can reconcile the two pillars of physics.


According to a team of scientists at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, the shortest conceivable period of time may not be greater than one billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second – or ten high 33 negative power. This means that the universe has a fundamental property whose ticks interact with atomic clocks, time meters that have the time constantly regulated, since the adjustments are made based on atoms that vibrate precisely, billions of times per second.

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Universe clock. Image: Shutterstock

Current atomic clocks are capable of measuring time in up to a tenth of a billionth of a billionth of a second, the equivalent of ten high negative power. Before the team of scientists modeled the universal clock, atomic clocks were sometimes out of sync with each other, putting the veracity of their measurements in check. However, with the time unit of the universe itself, everything started to make sense: according to the article, published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters, for measurements with 10 ^ -19 seconds in atomic clocks, the universal time unit could not be smaller than 10 ^ -33 seconds, as previously imagined with Planck’s theory of time (10 ^ -44 seconds). Therefore, it is easier to know which atomic clocks are working correctly.

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For now, this is the smallest unit of time proven to be calculated. Still, shorter periods may exist, it just doesn’t make sense to study them at the moment, since neither quantum mechanics nor relativity are able to explain what happens at such low scales. In the abstract world of physics, the smallest absolute time unit could still be 100 billion times smaller.

Via: Futurism / Live Science

Timeline Quantum physics Theory of relativity Atomic clock universe

 

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