Atomic Clocks: What are They?

Atomic Clocks: What are They?

For most people, Daylight Saving Time is an annoyance. The long-term economic benefits are not easily observable, but the immediate inconvenience of resetting clocks and trying to get to bed a bit earlier is apparent.

The average adult used to spend 10 minutes resetting their clocks twice a year. That’s not a long time, but it does add up. And when you consider how many people accidentally re-set their clock in the wrong direction, imagine how much productivity could be lost!

Fortunately, the use of atomic clocks and internet-based is on the rise. Atomic clocks are helping people save time and avoid confusion. They provide peace of mind, knowing that your time is always correct.

What is an Atomic Clock?

An atomic clock is a clock that uses the vibrations of molecules to keep time. The technique of atomic beam magnetic resonance was developed in the 1930s. By the mid-40s, Columbia University professor, Isidor Rabi, was considering how to use this resonance to measure time.

In 1949, the National Bureau of Standards announced the first atomic clock. The vibrations of an ammonia molecule were used to measure seconds. In 1952 the measurement tool was changed to cesium atoms. Over the next ten years, scientists worked to perfect the atomic clock. Finally, in 1968 the world’s most stable cesium clock was completed. It has an error margin of one second every 20 million years.

Atomic Clocks in Your Home

Most of the atomic clocks you buy for your home aren’t literally keeping their time by running off of vibrating cesium atoms. Instead, they synchronize with the time kept by a true atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This synchronization is done through a special radio wave that transmits the date, time, whether it’s a leap year, and whether it’s Daylight Saving Time. Typically, these clocks check their time through the radio signal every few hours. This keeps their accuracy within half a second throughout the day.

ILA’s Atomic Clocks

To make your life easier, ILA offers a variety of atomic clocks. Our Atomic Talking Time and Date Alarm Watch is ideal for anyone with visual impairments or who is Blind.  The hour and minute hands, as well as the numbers, are a bold black that provides good contrast with the white face. The watch also clearly speaks the time, day, date, and month in a pleasant male voice. All you have to do is set your time zone, and you will always have the exact time.

For keeping time on the go, the Talking Atomic Keychain Clock gives you the convenience of an atomic clock on your keychain! It has a large green talking button which will announce the time and the date whenever pressed. It works anywhere in the US and UK because it detects the time via radio signal. And while it comes attached to a keychain, it also includes an additional thin 30″ string lanyard for wearing around the neck.

If you want a little more functionality, the ILA Atomic Talking Clock w/Alarm, Calendar and Wireless Outdoor Temperature Sensor is a talking atomic alarm clock that has all the bells and whistles. And it speaks all the functions to guide you through the settings. Find out the time, date, and indoor and outdoor temperatures. Use the voice function, or for those with some vision, the information is also digitally displayed in large numbers.


To see our complete line of atomic watches and clocks, click here for watches, and here for clocks.