Synchronous electric clocks do not have an internal oscillator, but count cycles of the 50 or 60 Hz oscillation of the AC power line, which is synchronized by the utility to a precision oscillator. The counting may be done electronically, usually in clocks with digital displays, or, in analog clocks, the AC may drive a synchronous motor which rotates an exact fraction of a revolution for every cycle of the line voltage, and drives the gear train. Although changes in the grid line frequency due to load variations may cause the clock to temporarily gain or lose several seconds during the course of a day, the total number of cycles per 24 hours is maintained extremely accurately by the utility company, so that the clock keeps time accurately over long periods.
The tick duration must be positive. If it has a part smaller than a whole millisecond, then the whole duration must divide into one second without leaving a remainder. All normal tick durations will match these criteria, including any multiple of hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds, and sensible nanosecond durations, such as 20ns, 250,000ns and 500,000ns.
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