An Attosecond

That’s 0.000000000000000001 seconds.

It’s impossible for the human mind to imagine just how short of a timeframe that is, so let me give you some comparisons.

12 attoseconds is the shortest measurable period of time.

In a single second, light can circle the Earth 7.5 times. In a single attosecond, light would barely manage to move from one end of a molecule to the other end.

If you could perceive the world in that speed, even light would appear frozen to you.

1 attosecond is to a second what the size of an atom is to the size of the entire Earth. Times 100.

If you were an immortal living in that timeframe, you would live out the entire age of the universe in the time it would take a normal person to blink.

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One comment on “An Attosecond

  1. Stefan says:

    You (and some others on the internet) got the thing with the 12 attoseconds wrong. 12 attoseconds are the current world-record for the stabilization of the timing jitter of a light wave. There are other measurements of delays (=periods of time) with accuracy of about 10 attoseconds, see e.g.
    http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v8/n1/full/nphys2125.html
    or http://www.sciencemag.org/content/328/5986/1658.
    These accuracies are given by current experimental limitations.
    The shortest period of time that could IN PRINCIPLE be measured in the so-called Planck-time (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_time) and this is way shorter (1 attosecond is 5*10^26 Planck times!).

    Cheers!

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