Understanding Time Standards: It’s About Time!

While time can sometimes seem fleeting or even arbitrary, the truth is that it’s actually more concrete than many of the other units of measurement that we use. After all, manmade units like kilograms and pounds were simply defined to fit the needs of those who created them, becoming more clearly defined and official over time.

Meanwhile, time is drawn from a base unit that we have no ability to control or change: a day. The earth continues its rotation and its orbit regardless of how we quantify it, essentially giving us pre-established definitions for what constitutes a day or a year.

Keeping time by the sun

Of course, the more specific units of time that we’re all accustomed to seeing every day when we look at our watches are certainly defined by mankind. Interestingly enough, these measurements have shifted over time to become more uniform and provide more precise time tracking for individuals around the globe.

Reaching a Consensus on Time

While it may seem like a safe assumption to believe that the Earth is rotating at a constant speed, you wouldn’t quite be right. This was the belief until the 1800s, when astronomical observations began to hint that the Earth’s rotation might be slowing down a bit; early in the 1900s, this theory was confirmed.

Timepiece and calendar

For a time, several time standards saw varied usage in different areas. Among these, some of the most significant include Apparent Solar Time, which varies slightly from the mean 24-hour day but averages out over the course of a year, and Ephemeris Time, which was widely used for astronomical study for some time.

The invention of the atomic clock in the 1950s had a significant impact on time standards. With the advent of atomic time, experts were able to phase out purely astronomical time standards in favor of objective standards based on the atomic clock.

Today, International Atomic Time serves as a standard by which other time standards around the world are calculated. In this way, the International Atomic Time is very similar to the International Prototype Kilogram!

To learn more about accuracy in time measurement, be sure to contact Atlantic Scale Company online or to call our team at (973) 661-7090 today!

Leave a Reply