Journal article Open Access

Optical Clocks and Relativity

Chou, C. W.; Hume, D. B.; Rosenband, T.; Wineland, D. J.

Observers in relative motion or at different gravitational potentials measure disparate clock rates. These predictions of relativity have previously been observed with atomic clocks at high velocities and with large changes in elevation. We observed time dilation from relative speeds of less than 10 meters per second by comparing two optical atomic clocks connected by a 75-meter length of optical fiber. We can now also detect time dilation due to a change in height near Earth's surface of less than 1 meter. This technique may be extended to the field of geodesy, with applications in geophysics and hydrology as well as in space-based tests of fundamental physics. The tiny relativistic effects of everyday life can be measured by clocks ticking at optical frequencies. The tiny relativistic effects of everyday life can be measured by clocks ticking at optical frequencies.

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