January 18th, 2007


It's About Time!

Last year, as maybe one or two of you might recall, gnomi got me the bestest birthday present ever. This year, she's gotten me another perfect birthday present.

Even though my birthday isn't until the end of next month, I asked her to order the present for me early so I could have it as soon as possible. So she placed the order last week and the present arrived yesterday. Which means, amusingly enough, that I got my birthday present on her birthday.

So what is this wonderful present? The Casio WVA104HLA-8V Wave Ceptor Atomic Watch. Click on the link for a picture and a list of specifications. For those of you who are unfamiliar with "atomic" watches, note that the watch itself doesn't contain an atomic cesium clock inside. Instead, it has a radio receiver, and it calibrates itself to the official United States time via a radio signal sent each night from Fort Collins, Colorado. (For those of you who want to know more, the official US time is provided by the Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in cooperation with the Time Service Department of the United States Naval Observatory.

What this means to me is that every morning, I can be assured that I have the exact US time, calibrated down to the second, blinking away on my wrist.

Why is this gift so perfect for me? Two reasons.

• All my life, I've been obsessed with knowing the correct time. When an event happens in my life, I like to be able to look at my watch and say that this is the exact moment of said event. Or if a historical event takes place, I will search for information until I know as precisely as I can the time of the event. With this new watch, I will always know the real time.

• The watch has both an analog face and a digital face. I happen to be fond of analog watches, both because of my need to know what clockwise and counterclockwise means when doing electromagnetic force equations, and because of the word "analog." (Think about it.) But digital displays are much more convenient when it comes to reading off the exact time. So now I have the best of both worlds.

The only problem is that now I have to stay off of airplanes and starships, or else the relativistic time dilation will mess up the watch's timekeeping. Plus, I wouldn't be able to get the signal from Fort Collins...