In atomic clocks the controller is an evacuated microwave cavity attached to a microwave oscillator controlled by a microprocessor. A thin gas of caesium atoms is released into the cavity where they are exposed to microwaves. A laser measures how many atoms have absorbed the microwaves, and an electronic feedback control system called a phase-locked loop tunes the microwave oscillator until it is at the frequency that causes the atoms to vibrate and absorb the microwaves. Then the microwave signal is divided by digital counters to become the clock signal.
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Over the past decade, many of us have gotten used to setting our alarm clocks on our smartphones rather than purchasing a dedicated device for our nightstands. Despite their seeming obsolescence, an array of cutting-edge clocks have hit the market to aid us with everything from falling asleep to promoting better sleep cycles. Even Amazon is in the alarm clock game, with the Echo Spot, a device that resembles a Magic 8 Ball and functions much like the Echo Show.
The oldest surviving clock in England is that at Salisbury Cathedral, which dates from 1386. A clock erected at Rouen, France, in 1389 is still extant, and one built for Wells Cathedral in England is preserved in the Science Museum in London. The Salisbury clock strikes the hours, and those of Rouen and Wells also have mechanisms for chiming at the quarter hour. These clocks are large, iron-framed structures driven by falling weights attached to a cord wrapped around a drum and regulated by a mechanism known as a verge (or crown wheel) escapement. Their errors probably were as large as a half hour per day. The first domestic clocks were smaller wall-mounted versions of these large public clocks. They appeared late in the 14th century, and few examples have survived; most of them, extremely austere in design, had no cases or means of protection from dust.
Keep time in style with this traditional tabletop clock, a great way to round out a decorative vignette while adding essential function. Crafted from wood and metal, this circular design sits atop a curved base and pairs an antique dial with a deep red finish. The glass-inlaid clock face sports glow-in-the-dark hands, so you can check the time in the wee hours and early evening, while a quartz movement keeps this design tickin’ and tockin’. Requires a battery.
There’s a lot of science when it comes to sleeping, and there’s never a short supply of sleep-related tests going on. One of our favorite electronic brands here on Gear Hungry has made the most effective clock (in our humble opinion), and it’s the #8 pick: Philips Wake-Up HF3505. Slow light build mimics the sunrise, and gently pulls you out of a sleep-like trance before hitting you with some serious sound. Between price, effectiveness, and the fact that we didn’t have to chase it around the room (sorry Clocky, we’re not morning people), we absolutely loved this one.
“I am the heaviest sleeper and was setting four or five alarms on my phone to wake me up. After being late a few times, I decided to purchase this alarm clock to help me wake up on time. I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. … The bed shaker is super important. I put it under my pillow, and it shook me awake; the loud beep helped too. If you can sleep through earthquakes and shouting family members, this is the alarm clock for you.”