The team confused about 350 ytterbium atoms. The atoms of the earth element rarely oscillate at the same frequency as visible light, or 100,000 times more per second than cesium, the element used in other atomic clocks. If scientists can accurately track these oscillations, they “can use atoms to distinguish smaller and smaller time intervals,” MIT notes.
If the most advanced atomic clocks were adapted to use this method and existed since the beginning of the universe (about 14 billion years ago), researchers believe they would be correct in less than a tenth of a second. The most advanced atomic clocks would be stopped by about half a second in the same time frame as their current configurations.