Researchers studying Einstein's theory of general relativity could make use of this clock to more precisely measure how time is different depending on the surrounding gravitational force.
Global positioning systems already take this into account. Because they are farther from Earth than we are, and therefore experience less gravitational pull, their measurement of time as they orbit Earth is slightly different from what we perceive on the ground. A more precise atomic clock could measure the correctional factors even better.
Such clocks could also test alternative theories about the relationship between time and gravity.
There could be other applications for navigation and communications systems.
But you probably won't want one for your alarm clock. Ludlow said the total cost ranges on the order of a half-million dollars.
Although scientists have proclaimed that this is the world's most stable clock, they do not yet know as much about its accuracy. This is a subtle but important difference: The ytterbium clock has demonstrated incredible stability of measurement -- it always measures a second in the same way -- but we do not yet know if what it is measuring is a "true" second.
So, we'll have to wait to find out whether these clocks could be the most accurate in the world. More research is needed. It's a story we hear time and time again.