As Make puts it, the atomic clock is old and busted. The quantum-logic clock from National Institute of Standards and Technology, keeping time 100,000 times more accurately than its predecessor, is definitely the new hotness.
The quantum clock, developed by physicist Chin-wen Chou of the NIST, keeps time by measuring the energy of a single aluminum ion with UV lasers. It loses one second every 3.4 billion years, compared to the cesium fountain clock which loses a second every 100 million years, and upon which the current international standard is based.
In fact, the new quantum-logic clock is so precise that Chou's team can't even measure it, as the current definition of a second is based on the prevailing cesium clock.
Don't get too excited about setting your life to a more precise clock just yet: there are currently no plans to adopt the quantum clock as the international standard. But with potential applications ranging from use in more precise GPS devices to answering questions about the speed of light and Einsteinian relativity, this clock is still a serious tick into the future. [Wired via Make]