Skip to comments.There’s a new record for the shortest time measurement: how long it takes light to cross a hydrogen molecule
Posted on 10/26/2020 10:27:51 PM PDT by LibWhacker
To measure small differences in time, you need a really tiny clock, and researchers in Germany have discovered the smallest known clock: a single hydrogen molecule. Using the travel of light across the length of that molecule, those scientists have measured the smallest interval of time ever: 247 zeptoseconds. Dont know what a zepto is? Read on
When a bit of light, called a photon, hits an atom with enough energy, it can kick the electron out of that atom and send it flying. When we carefully set up this situation in a laboratory, we can measure the electron shooting out of the atom and deduce when it got the big kick from the incoming photon.
With more than one electron, you can turn this arrangement into a tiny, very fast clock. The photon will hit one electron, and then the other, and by measuring the delay between outgoing electrons, we can measure the amount of time it takes for the photon to travel from one electron to the other within the molecule.
For years scientists have been building various atomic contraptions to do exactly this, finding smaller and smaller clocks as they go. Recently, a team at Goethe University in Germany managed to accomplish this with only a single hydrogen molecule (H2): two protons sharing two electrons.
Using an X-ray beam at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), a particle accelerator in Hamburg, the team observed the slight differences in timing when the two electrons raced out of the molecule when shot with the X-rays, as reported in the October issue of Science.
From there, they could calculate the time it took for the X-ray photons to make the jump from one end of the molecule to the other. And that time difference amounted to barely anything at all: 247 zeptoseconds. One zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second.
If you want that written out (and I know you do), that looks like this: 0.000000000000000000247 seconds.
Its a new world record for the shortest time interval ever recorded, and further work in this field helps us understand the detailed structures of molecules and their relationship to incoming photons, which has applications everywhere from chemistry to nuclear power.
247 zeptoseconds = 494 half-zeptoseconds
JK. Interesting stuff.
wouldn’t that be a hydrogen atom?
Yeah, but it still can’t make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs.
Crossing a liberal is even faster.
I thought the shortest time in the universe was the interval between the light turning green and the taxi behind you honking its horn.
Two atoms make up the H2 molecule.
You pretty much never find single hydrogen atoms. The binding energy is so much lower in the diatomic state that atomic hydrogen would rip more out of water molecules if it found any.
H2, most likely.
heh good one- another one is- the shortest time is right after a woman says to do something, and the husband opens his mouth to object, it’s that infinitesimally small span of time when her brow begins to wrinkle, her foot starts to tap, and her finger begins to pointing-
Is that a longer or shorter period than the length of time between Biden’s lies?
The time between Justice Barrett’s confirmation and swearing in was pretty short.
Thanks LibWhacker. Gumtoseconds are so short, they don't even appear on the screen.
Seems to me you run into some issues with Planck’s constant there, in determining the position of the electrons to such high certainty.
Heisenberg is pissed off, certainly.
That is VERY close to the observed time span between asking a woman what's wrong and when she snaps back, very shortly,
60 years ago Id hear, in response to a time inquiry, something like quarter to freckle . Not until tonight did it occur to me the joke had to do with looking at a watch-less wrist.
Perhaps when I heard the joke it was stale enough to no longer require acting out. Now I get it, ha!
Wonder what they meant by half-past the monkeys...
My gas from cancer treatments is faster than all of them. Leaves a “Takion trail” a mile long, too.
That’s a “New York Minute”.
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