Maker Faire

What Makes Atomic Clocks Tick?

Type: Presentation
Program Area: Science

Day/Time: Saturday, April 22 12:00 PM (30 minutes)

Day/Time: (30 minutes)

Location: DIY Theatre

Common clocks consist of an oscillator and a counter. Atomic clocks achieve high accuracy by controlling the oscillator with a third ingredient: a set of atoms with a well-defined reference frequency. In this short talk, I'll explain the basics of atomic clocks and how the most common types work. I'll also describe a next-generation single-atom optical-frequency atomic clock, currently being developed at NIST, that promises extremely high accuracy.

Presented by

Windell Oskay

An atomic physicist by training, I've been employed as a quantum mechanic, (atomic) clock maker, and cartoonist. I now work for a small silicon-valley company designing scientific instruments. I once put an "Ooga" horn on a tandem cruiser bike. Some of the other projects that I've designed and built include a carbon-fiber electric guitar, hard-drive wind chimes, nixie clocks made from vintage HP electronic counters, and electric RC model hovercrafts. I like cooking, birdwatching, and vintage bikes.