Einstein, Time and Light

January 29, 2017

Bangs, whizzes, levitation and the secrets of the universe were revealed when Nobel Laureate Professor William D Phillips of the Joint Quantum Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Maryland, presented a lively, multimedia presentation on Einstein’s insights into light and how they have changed how we think about time.

In the 20th century, scientists used light to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures billions of times lower than anything else in the universe. Now, these ultracold atoms, Einstein’s theory of gravity and the discoveries of optics pioneers from Ibn al-Haytham to today, are converging upon a great scientific and technological wonder: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever.

Professor Phillips explained the science behind primary ultracold atom clocks, how they achieve accuracies of better than a second in 300 million years, the reasons why the super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science, and how they form the heart of modern GPS technology.

Here is a version of the talk recorded by the University of Auckland: