Professional Jeweler Archive: Atomic Clock Joins 'On Time'

March 2001


Atomic Clock Joins 'On Time'

Smithsonian exhibit now displays extreme accuracy

The “On Time” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, now features a clock so accurate it loses or gains only one second every 162,000 years. The clock was donated by its developer, Agilent Technologies, a spinoff of Hewlett-Packard.

Called the Agilent 5071A Primary Frequency Standard, the clock is based on cesium-beam technology. As the most precise method of commercial timekeeping, Agilent’s atomic clocks are used as master clocks for telecommunications, satellite communications and navigation systems throughout the world.

Of the roughly 220 atomic clocks international time laboratories use to determine world time, 168 are cesium clocks made by Agilent. For more information about the National Museum of American History and the “On Time” exhibition, visit

– Michael Thompson

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications