back to article Florida man is world's fastest flasher: Just 53 quintillionths of a sec

Physicists at the University of Central Florida have developed the world's fastest X‑ray pulse, at 53 attoseconds. Blink and you'll really, really miss it. At 53 quintillionths (53 x 10‑18) of a second, the flash is 15 orders of magnitude faster than the blink of an eye. The beam travels less than one-thousandth of the …

  1. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Faster?

    Or shorter? If it was faster, the units would be a percentage of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum, Shirley.

    1. PNGuinn
      Megaphone

      Re: Faster?

      DON'T CALL MY SHEEP SHIRLEY!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Faster? ["Fastest"]

      Deliberate wind up or genuine ignorance? As a wind up, it's just not very funny. As genuine ignorance, it's inexcusable in a tech rag.

  2. jake Silver badge

    I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

    ... the attention span of millennials?

    1. ColonelDare

      Re: I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

      What's fast enough?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

        Huh?

    2. KeepCalm

      Re: I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

      Haha. As a millennial myself I just want to say that I am fully capable of concentrating with out getting di

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

        @jake, you need to re-read that response a couple of times mate :)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I wonder if that's fast enough to capture ...

          Response?

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I Love Science!

    Seriously, how awesome is that - 53x10-18 seconds. Incredible. For context, that's close to the time it takes for light to pass 100 Hydrogen Atoms. Just think about that for a second (which is a lot of attoseconds! :P). 100 Hydrogen Atoms. And mankind can create something that precise. It makes you realise that in spite of the efforts of religious fundamentalists, politicians and marketeers, there might actually be hope for humanity after all....

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: I Love Science!

      Nah, mankind's prime directive is still to control and dominate other people (including their own) just as much as it has always been. This is just what happens the few people who never got that memo are left to their own devices for long enough to make a difference...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I Love Science!

        There is nothing wrong with paying boffins to fire attolasers while you play the Game of Thrones with a winning hand!

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: I Love Science!

      Hope for humanity until someone straps an attosecond laser on a shark and holds the world hostage for one meellion dollars.

  4. Wiltshire
    Coat

    That's just about long enough to capture an image of my pay going into my bank account. Just before my spouse and children spend it.

  5. Mike Shepherd
    IT Angle

    Video

    No doubt this has uses, but it's not clear how it can help to "...shoot slow-motion video of electrons and atoms...". However short the pulse, surely an electron which absorbs an X-ray photon will immediately head off at high speed, so won't be around to be "videoed". If the photon isn't absorbed, I assume it just passed by. Can anyone explain?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Video

      Because you don't 'video' one electron - You take a series of images of electrons, a different one each time...

      Then put those frames together to work out what happens when you stop knocking the electrons out of the way

  6. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Joke

    What the fuck was that?

    Did you see it? No? Shit, now I'll never know.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    How did they measure it?

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      If my school physics lessons taught me anything I'd say they start the stop watch, someone counts 10 flashes and then they say stop. Then someone stops the stop watch. Then everyone changes places and they do it again.

      So it's probably an average of 30 or 40 flashes.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    IT Angle

    While astonishing femtosecond (1x10^-15 sec) lasers are already available OTS

    These guys will even sell you one.

    300eV is of course what you need for that "Extreme UV" that people have been touting as the future of narrow line width chip making.

    Current systems need a 20Kw laser to generate c10W of "EUV" light to expose a 300mm dia wafer.

    I'm guessing but it can also be used for diagnostics on one of those laser fusion systems as well.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: While astonishing femtosecond (1x10^-15 sec) lasers are already available OTS

      I'm more of a fan of phased plasma rifles myself (something in the 40 watt range?).

      I do however wonder if this could be used for other purposes like optical switching since the faster the better and all that?

  9. Alan Sharkey

    What electrons?

    I thought the classic image of electrons spinning around a core had been dismissed long ago. So what are they looking at?

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: What electrons?

      The idea of electrons orbiting a nucleus in a manner similar to planets orbiting a star was dismissed a very long time ago. The electrons are still there though.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What electrons?

        >The electrons are still there though.

        Probably, until you look

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What electrons?

        "The electrons are still there though."

        Where?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: What electrons?

          Where?

          In the cloud! The cloud of complex-valued probability!

  10. lglethal Silver badge
    Joke

    Perhaps it's the reverse Heisenberg Principle - i.e.that the electrons cant be both scientifically dismissed and actually gone at the same time...

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Boffin

    I blinked

    But that didn't stop it.

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