Modern technology flows with a heartbeat measured in microseconds. From global positioning systems to communications networks, it''s vital that every component enters a near-perfect alignment.
Signals sent through optic fiber or down from an orbiting satellite tend to ensure time-sensitive technology matches moments down to the nanosecond, according to a specialized task group.
However, this isn''t always going to be the case. It''s simple for vital parts of a network to lose the beat, relying on fallsible electronics, separated by large distances.
According to Hiroyuki Tanaka, a geophysicist at the University of Tokyo, it might be high time we go elsewhere for a more reliable, more accessible timekeeper. Like to the sky, and above.
"It''s quite simple to keep time precisely these days,," Tanaka says. For example, atomic clocks have been doing this for decades now.
"These are, however, large and costly instruments that are quite easy to disrupt. This is one reason I have been working on an improved way to keep time."
Tanaka, dubbed "Cosmic Time synchronization" (CTS), proposes that we use subatomic fireworks that fall in love with high-energy cosmic rays and our atmosphere.
These collisions generate a variety of particles, one of which is the most powerful cousin of the electron the muon.
These shredded matter are moving towards the surface of the planet at the speed of light, while keeping an eye on it. Hold out your hand and you may expect a muon to punch through your palm once a second.
Even the rock beneath your feet is struggling to cross its path, which makes them ideal for shining a light on the insides of dense structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Almost every shower of muons rains down in a slightly different direction, delivering a noticeable explosion that can be detected independently by sensors across several square kilometers.
By sharing details of each event and moving backward, a network may utilize a series of cosmic muon fireworks to synchronize their watches with split-second precision.
Tanaka, Hiroyuki K. M. Tanaka
"The concept is strong, and the technology, detectors, and timing electronics have already existed. So we could implement this idea relatively quickly," said Tanaka.
It''s quite simple to imagine a network of muon-catchers scattered on the ocean floor or in remote areas, conscientiously synchronized to align observations that might assist in pinpointing earthquakes or warning against tsunamis.
According to Tanaka, the technology might have a similar advantage of being used as the basis for a fresh global positioning system by mapping muons back to their source.
It is yet to see if such technology might improve current techniques, serve as an alternative in certain situations or replace it altogether.
According to Tanaka, "Thomas Edison lit up Manhattan starting with a single light bulb.
"Perhaps we should adopt this approach, starting with a city block, then a district, and eventually we''ll sync Tokyo and beyond."
Scientific Reports have published this study.