(My apologies to my subscribers who are seeing this for the third time. My original post was accidentally deleted by my hosting company, so I had to republish.)
Have you ever noticed that the time on your cell phone is often
different than the time on your stove or other electric clock? There's a
good reason for that and it may get worse
Cell phones and the landline telephone system (you remember Ma Bell, right?) run off of an atomic clock
So do the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Internet, and many
laboratories where timing of events is a critical part of the
experiments. Atomic clocks keep time for the entire world and are used
because their accuracy is extremely high
, and the systems that keep time by them need the accuracy. The U.S. atomic clock is maintained by NIST
(the National Institute of Standards and Technology).
electric power grid helps keep time another way. Our electrical system
in the U.S. operates at 60 cycles per second. I won't go into the
science of all this here, because I don't want to put you to sleep. You
can do research on the Internet if you want more detail. Electric
clock that don't use the atomic clock system rely on the number of
cycles in the grid to be 60 per second. These clocks count the cycles
they see and change the time they display accordingly, one second per
every 60 cycles.
The power grid has pretty good accuracy, so
electric clocks do pretty well in keeping time, but the power grid is
not as reliable as the atomic clocks, so that the stove clock doesn't
keep time as well as your cell phone does.
OK. Four paragraphs
to get to what I want to tell you: The people who run the power grid in
the U.S. want to experiment with the frequency of cycles they transmit
in order to determine whether or not they can make the grid more
reliable. This has nothing to do with keeping time better; it is about
making sure that electricity can be delivered more reliably. The
experiment will involve moderating the number of cycles per second
generated by the grid, and it will last for a year..
don't know the specifics of the experiment or how it will make power
delivery more reliable, I know this - it will mess with your electric
clocks, making them think time is passing faster than it truly is.
Therefore, your electric clocks will run fast. This won't affect any
clocks that run off the atomic clock.
The experiment is something
deemed necessary, so it may very well go on. I don't know when it is
scheduled to start, but at some point you will be very annoyed that your
clocks don't all read the correct time more frequently than they do
Just thought you'd want to know!
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