What is an Atomic Clock (And Why Do You Need One?)

An atomic clock is probably the most accurate way to tell time known to man. Even in this day and age of cell phones, you can still use an atomic clock.

So, what is an “atomic clock?” This question comes up here at Solid Signal, particularly when we’re doing product descriptions. Atomic clock… The name alone conjures up a variety of images and ideas in the mind of anyone with a fertile imagination. It has to be the inclusion of the word “atomic” that gets everyone thinking. You might be surprised to learn that the truth of the atomic clock is more interesting than anything anyone could conceive about these highly-accurate clocks.

For the Record…

Atomic clocks keep the time that’s set and recorded by larger atomic clocks located in scientific laboratories, such as NIST Laboratories in Boulder, CO. These master devices use atoms to record the length of time. More to the point, the devices measure a second as the time it takes a Cesium-133 atom at the ground state to oscillate exactly 9,192,631,770 times. Somehow, through all this atomic technology, the length of a second is determined and measured. As such, so are minutes, hours, and every other aspect of how we humans keep track of time.

To be honest, all this makes very little sense to me. I’m not a techie like my colleague, Stuart Sweet, who probably has built his own atomic clock that operates out of his basement. What I do know is that the “atomic clocks” sold by Solid Signal aren’t atomic at all. Sure, they’re made out of atoms (like everything else), but they don’t measure time atomically. Atomic clocks for home use are actually GPS receivers! GPS satellites rebroadcast time signals from the master atomic clock in the US. (How does that help the GPS tell your where you are? Stuart Sweet explains it here.) Home-based “atomic clocks” simply receive a clock signal from a satellite that’s synced up to the master clock.

The Benefits of an Atomic Clock
As amazing as atomic clocks are, aren’t these devices obsolete in a time when people use cellphones as clocks, calendars, planners, and internet sources? That’s a good question, and it was recently asked by a coworker here at Solid Signal. I believe the time that’s kept by our cellphones are still based upon time kept by master atomic clock machines in laboratories. There’s still use for consumer atomic clocks in your home or office. Every home needs a clock, and people don’t always have their phones with them. With anything, people want their timekeeping devices to be accurate, hence the atomic clock for the home or business.

Like a phone is not just a phone, an atomic clock is not just a clock. This is especially true with the atomic clocks offered by Solid Signal. You’ll find a huge selection of atomic clocks by La Crosse Technology in our online inventory. Many of these devices offer more than just timekeeping. Some of these La Crosse atomic clocks give temperature updates, moon phases, and month, day, and year readouts. A good number of them also serve as alarm clocks, as well as calendars.

Speaking of atomic clocks with multiple functions, we also carry a huge variety of La Crosse weather stations with built-in atomic clocks. When you set up the sensor in your backyard, these devices deliver real-time weather reports from outside and deliver them to the device. These units also feature atomic clocks for accurate time and so much more. We carry a wide variety of La Crosse weather stations, each with its own unique features and benefits, in our online inventory.

Would You Like an Atomic Clock?
Has my waxing poetic about the benefits of atomic clocks got you interested in these devices? I hope so, because a La Crosse atomic clock and/or weather station can be a handy device to have in your home or office. If you see the atomic clock you need on our website, order it and enjoy Solid Signal’s fast and friendly service. If you have questions about a specific product, call us at 877.312.4547. A member of our team of product experts will help you and recommend an atomic clock.