Einstein anticipated time dilation in his general relativity theory, which states that two clocks under two different gravitational forces will always tick at different speeds. Since then, scientists have detected the impact in a variety of studies, but this is the first time it has been recorded at the smallest size yet. The outcome was obtained by synchronising ultra-precise Atomic Clocks that were about a millimetre apart — roughly the width of a sharp pencil tip.
The scientists obtained a reading that was 50 times more exact than any prior equivalent measurement after collecting 90 hours of data. Of course, the smaller and more exact the scale, the more we rely on quantum physics to describe what is happening. According to quantum physics, the curvature of spacetime – what we sense as gravity – impacts the characteristics of particles, which the researchers hope to learn more about with their new findings.
It uses laser light waves to provide better precision in timekeeping, and these lattices can be used for quantum simulations. The two Atomic Clocks readings were taken in a highly regulated energy state from the same cloud of atoms. In fact, the atoms clicked between two energy levels in perfect synchronisation for 37 seconds, setting a new record for quantum coherence which is critical for these measurements.