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Sunday, October 31, 2004  
It is time to fall back

Culture: It is time to fall back

Daylight Savings Time ended last night. If appliances in your home did not reset themselves, you need to turn their chronometers back one hour. The ones that are not automated are easy to forget about. Wall clocks. Stove clocks. Answering machines. Microwaves. And, of course, watches, including those you are not currently wearing. Others are set to DST, but do the forgetting themselves. Check your televisions and VCRs or DVD players. That missing hour can mean missing a program. Don't forget remote timepieces, such as the one in your car. And, we don't miss falling back only at home. I usually see the wrong time on clocks in businesses for days or weeks after DST has begun or ended. Do your employer a favor by making sure the clock is right.

This is also a good time to regain those seconds or minutes your timepieces have lost over the year. You can obtain the truly correct time by visiting the atomic clock webpage . The atomic clock is the best instrument for measuring time known. That is because of how it works.

The atomic clock, the most accurate of timekeeping devices, is based on the measurement of changes in the energy states of atoms. The energy change involved in the most common forms of the atomic clock occurs when the atom absorbs energy, causing an electron to alter its spin characteristics and, subsequently, its magnetic field. The unique frequency (number of complete oscillations per second) of the radiation absorbed by an atom when it undergoes such an energy change is a periodic phenomenon analogous to the swing of a pendulum and may thus be used as a time standard. Because this frequency is largely independent of all normal external conditions, such as air pressure and magnetic fields, the atomic clock is a highly stable device. Atoms especially suitable for atomic clocks include cesium, rubidium, and hydrogen.

The U.S. government has some atomic clocks . Locations include the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)'s in Boulder, Colo., and Kauai, Hawaii, and the USNO (U.S. Naval Observatory)'s atomic clock in Washington, D.C.

Want to have the right time all the time? You can buy timekeepers that access the atomic clocks via radio and reflect their times.

What's the art?

The original atomic clock debuted in 1949.

7:41 AM