Universität Wien FIND
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260113 VO Time and Clocks (2020W)

3.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 26 - Physik


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English

Examination dates


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 08.10. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 15.10. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 22.10. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 29.10. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 05.11. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 12.11. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 19.11. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 26.11. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 03.12. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 10.12. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 17.12. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 07.01. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 14.01. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital
Thursday 21.01. 09:30 - 11:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

CHANGE: Due to the COVID situation, we are switching to Digital format. Lectures will be given live as BigBlueButton on the Moodle site for this course. Lecture notes will also be available on Moodle.
We will learn about the physical principles of clocks and time-keeping, starting from long ago but concentrating on the present. Along the way we will address many issues, such as: How do you quantify the accuracy of a clock? How do you tell time with an atomic clock? How is “official” time managed? What is a leap second? How does relativity affect clocks? What limits the performance of clocks based on sundials, pendulums, quartz crystals, and atomic transitions?
The contents of the course are not "set in stone." Student input is welcome if there are additional special topics that you are interested in.

Assessment and permitted materials

I hope to give a written test after the end of the lectures. No books, notes, or other outside material will be needed or permitted. If COVID does not allow for this, then we will have oral examinations via video teleconference.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

An exam score of at least 50% is necessary to receive a passing grade.

Examination topics

The student should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the physics associated with clocks, including: sundials, pendulum clocks, quartz clocks, atomic clocks. The student should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the systems of time used in the world today and the definition of time standards. The student should understand principles of clock accuracy, precision, and statistics. The student should understand some very basic principles of time with regard to special and general relativity. All of this material will be addressed in the lectures.

Reading list

There is no textbook for the course, but suggestions for reading and references will be given. Lecture slides and notes will be provided online via Moodle during the semester.

Association in the course directory


Last modified: Sa 22.10.2022 00:27