From Sundials to Atomic Clocks: Undestanding Time and Frequency / Edition 2

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This clear and accessible introduction to the concept of time examines forms of measurement, historic timekeeping methods, uses of time information, and the role of time in science and technology. It includes a fascinating survey of man-made clocks and watches, and more than 300 illustrations enliven its comprehensive treatment.

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Editorial Reviews

This introduction to time focuses on measurement, historic methods of timekeeping, the uses of time information, and the role of time in science and technology. Other topics include the search for uniform time, the application of time to energy, communication, and transportation, and the role of the world's official timekeepers. More than 300 drawings and cartoons are included. This is a Dover reprint of a 1999 edition by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From The Critics
Two fine guides to timekeeping and sundials are recommended picks. James Jespersen and Jane Fitz-Randolph's From Sundials To Atomic Clocks appears in its second revised edition to provide a history of human understanding of the nature of time and its calculation. From natural clocks to the relation of time, frequency and navigation issues, this provides a treatise on man-made timekeeping systems. R. Newton and Margaret Mayall's Sundials considers the construction and use of sundials, and appears as a republication of the 1994 third edition. Chapters provide fine details on how sundials tell time and how to construct all types of sundials, from portable instruments to furniture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486409139
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 12/8/2011
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.51 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

  1. The Riddle of Time
      The Nature of Time
      What is Time?
      "Date, Time Interval, and Synchronization"
      Ancient Clock Watchers
      Clocks in Nature
      Keeping Track of the Sun and Moon
      Thinking Big and Thinking Small-An Aside on Numbers
  2. Everything Swings
      Getting Time from Frequency
      What Is a Clock?
      The Earth-Sun Clock
      Meter Sticks to Measure Time
      What Is a Standard?
      How Time Tells Us Where in the World We Are
      Building a Clock that Wouldn't Get Seasick
  3. Early Clocks
      Sand and Water Clocks
      Mechanical Clocks
      The Pendulum Clock
      The Balance-Wheel Clock
      Further Refinements
      The Search for Even Better Clocks
  4. "Q" Is for Quality"
      The Resonance Curve
      Energy Build-up and the Resonance Curve-An Aside on Q
      The Resonance Curve and the Decay Time
      "Accuracy, Stability, and Q"
      High Q and Accuracy
      High Q and Stability
      Waiting to Find the Time
      Pushing Q to the Limit
  5. Building Even Better Clocks
      The Quartz Clock
      Atomic Clocks
      The Ammonia Resonator
      The Cesium Resonator
      One Second in 10 000 000 Years
      Atomic Definition of the Second
      The Rubidium Resonator
      The Hydrogen Maser
      Can We Always Build a Better Clock?
  6. A Short History of the Atom
      Thermodynanics and the Industrial Revolution
      Count Rumford's Cannon
      Saturn's Rings and the Atom
      Bringing Atoms to a Halt
      Atoms Collide
  7. Cooling the Atom
      Pure Light
      Shooting at Atoms
      Optical Molasses
      Trapping Atoms
      Penning Traps
      Paul Traps
      Real Cool Clocks
      Capturing Neutral Atoms
      Atomic Fountains
      Quantum Mechanics and the Single Atom
  8. The Time for Everybody
      The First Watches
      Modern Mechanical Watches
      Electric and Electronic Watches
      The Quartz-Crystal Watch
      "How Much Does "The Time" Cost?"
  9. Time Scales
      The Calendar
      The Solar Day
      The Stellar or Sidereal Day
      Earth Rotation
      The Continuing Search for More Uniform Time: Ephemeris Time
      How Long Is a Second?
      "Rubber" Seconds"
      The New UTC System and the Leap Second
      The Length of the Year
      The Keepers of Time
      World Time Scales
      Bureau International de Poids et Mesures
  10. The Clock behind the Clock
      Flying Clocks
      Time on a Radio Beam
      Time in the Sky
      Other Considerations
      Other Radio Schemes
  11. The Time Signal on Its Way
      Choosing a Frequency
      Very low Frequencies
      Low Frequencies
      Medium Frequencies
      High Frequencies
      Very High Frequencies
      Frequencies above 300 megahertz
      Noise-Additive and Multiplicative
      Three Kinds of Time Signals
  12. Standard Time
      Standard Time Zones and Daylight-Saving Time
      Time as a Standard
      Is a Second Really a Second?
      Who Cares about the Time?
  13. "Time, The Great Organizer"
      Electric Power
      Navigation by Radio Beacons
      Navigation by Satellite
      The Global Positioning System
      Some Common and Some Far-out Uses of Time and Frequency Technology
  14. Ticks and Bits
      Divide and Conquer
      "Sending Messages the Old Fashioned Way, One Bit at a Time"
      Automated Telegraphy
      Frequency Division Multiplexing
      Simultaneous Time and Frequency Multiplexing
      Don't Put All Your Messages in one Basket
      Keeping the Clocks in Step
  15. Time and Mathematics
      A New Direction
      Taking Apart and Putting Together
      Slicing up the Past and the Future-Calculus
      Conditions and Rules
      Getting at the Truth with Differential Calculus
      Newton's Law of Gravitation
      What's Inside the Differentiating Machine?-An Aside
  16. Time and Physics
      Time is Relative
      Time Has Direction
      Time Measurement Is Limited
      Atomic and Gravitational Clocks
      The Struggle to Preserve Symmetry
      The Direction of Time and Time Symmetries-An Aside
  17. Time and Astronomy
      Measuring the Age of the Universe
      The Expanding Universe-Time Equals Distance
      Big Bang or Steady State?
      Stellar Clocks
      White Dwarfs
      Neutron Stars
      Black Holes-Time Comes to a Stop
      "Time, Distance, and Radio Stars "
  18. Until the End of Time
      Time Is Not Absolute
      General Theory of Relativity
      A Bang or a Whimper?
  19. "Time's Direction, Free Will, and All That"
      Time's Direction and Information
      Disorganization and Information?
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