Tuesday, September 6, 2011

August 1959: The Ultimate Split of the Second

After his July 1959 anecdote, he gives an anecdote in the August 1959 essay as well...but this does not indicate that he's going to be doing it every time, as the next anecdote won't show up until Jan 1960.

"Occasionally, I get an idea for something new in science; not necessarily something important, of course, but new anyway. One of these ideas is what I will devote this chapter to.

The notion came to me some time ago, when the news broke that a subatomic particle called xi-zero (with "xi" pronounced "ksee" if you speak Greek and "zigh" if you speak Engish) had been detected for the first time. Like other particles of its general nature, it is strangely stable, having a half-life of fully a ten billionth (10 to the 10th power) of a second or so.

...

My idea is intended to make split-seconds more visualizable, and I got it from the device used in a realm of measurement that is also grotesque and outside the range of all common experience - that of astronomical distances."

And he goes on to explain his idea.


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