For Web site owners and bloggers, there is a new widget from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that will keep your Web pages right on time.
Web "widgets" are small application programs designed to be run inside Web pages. The NIST time widget, created by engineer Andrew Novick, can be used on any Web page. "The widget code tells your browser to go out and grab NIST time content and post it to your page," Novick explains, "It synchronizes with NIST's atomic clock in Boulder, Colo., every 10 minutes, thereby guaranteeing its accuracy.
NIST is the nation's official civilian timekeeper (its military counterpart is the U.S. Naval Observatory), and its clocks contribute to the international time system, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
The widget checks the viewer's computer to determine which time zone it should display as the default. To add the NIST time widget to your Web page or blog go to www.time.gov/widget/ and copy the code. The code requires Adobe Flash Player to run. A non-Flash version (using HTML5) is under development that will enable the widget to be viewed on additional mobile devices. Also, smaller configurations in multiple shapes, sizes and formats will be available in the months ahead.
NIST's Boulder Laboratories is the home of the most accurate clock in the world, the NIST F-1 Cesium Fountain clock. It uses transitions in Cesium 133 atoms to measure time to an accuracy of about 1 second in 100 million years.