The movements of the Sun, Moon and stars have long been used to keep track of time, and now engineers from the University of Tokyo have proposed a new way to use the cosmos to precisely track time, using showers of particles from cosmic rays.
For most of us, everyday timekeeping can be out by a few seconds without causing any major dramas. But in more scientific, industrial and technological scenarios, differences on the scale of nanoseconds can be crucial. Keeping time this precisely requires networks of GPS and atomic clocks, but these systems are expensive and don’t work everywhere – particularly underground or underwater.
The new technology outlined by the U Tokyo researchers is designed to solve both of those problems. They call it cosmic time synchronization (CTS), and it works by tracking cosmic ray events in the sky.
Cosmic rays are constantly pouring in from deep space, and when they reach Earth they interact with particles in the atmosphere,…