The physics of timekeeping: from Stonehenge to atomic clocks

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 3 February


The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London
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Event description

The need to tell the time connects you to over five thousand years of human history. From the first solstice markers at Newgrange to quartz crystal oscillating in your watch today.

Join physicist Chad Orzel as he discusses time from orbital motion and axial tilt to the quantum mechanics and relativity theory that gives us our ultra-precise atomic clocks.

In this talk, Chad explores the wondrous physics that makes time something we can set, measure and know.

Event type

This is a livestream event where the speaker and audience come together online. 


These online events are free for everyone to access. However, donations are an extremely important source of support for us and we would be most grateful if you are able to contribute. We are a small, independent charity and receive no government funding.  Our income from ticket sales and venue hire has been significantly reduced and will continue to fall. Donations, alongside our membership subscriptions are vital to our development and survival.

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About the speaker

Chad Orzel is an associate professor at the department of physics and astronomy at Union College, where he does research on atomic, molecular, and optical physics. 

He has written for Forbes, Daily Mail and Physics World, and has spoken at numerous TED talks. His previous books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lives in Niskayuna, New York.

Chad's book, 'A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic clocks' is available from all good bookstores. 


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All proceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

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