SciFri Extra: About Time

Ira talks with the head of the NIST’s Time and Frequency Division about time, and how to measure it better.

The official U.S. time is kept on a cesium fountain clock named NIST-F1, located in Boulder, Colorado. On a recent trip to Boulder, Ira took a trip to see the clock. He spoke with Elizabeth Donley, acting head of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, about keeping the official U.S. time on track—and how NIST is using advanced physics to develop ever more precise and stable ways to measure time.

a man standing in front of large mechanical device with a pipe connecting it to the ceiling. a side panel is open, revealing its electronic guts
Steve Jefferts gestures towards the cesium fountain NIST-F1 clock. Credit: Brandon Echter

Calling all word nerds! Sign up for Science Diction, a weekly email about words, science, and language.

Meet the Writer

About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

Explore More