New Compass Finds Its Way With Light

The compass has been around pretty much forever. Current technology isn’t really that far from a magnetized sliver of metal floating on a cork, but that may be about to change. A group of physicists have been working on a new type of compass, one that uses rubidium atoms to measure the magnetic field and provide a more accurate reading.

The problem with current technology is that it can be disrupted by any large metallic mass. This can be an issue in the outdoors, where there’s large iron deposits, or in a ship, where the obvious problem arises. As a result, a compass that doesn’t use magnetics to read the the earth’s magnetic field would be a good thing. Science News reports that the physicists who have been working on the new compass found a way to pass light through a cloud of heated atoms. As the compass has moved elsewhere around the earth, the atoms change their alignment to reflect the changing magnetic field, changing the amount and angle of the light as it passes through.

At this time the technology is still in it’s infancy, but the concept is sound. All that’s left now is for the technology to pass field tests before we start to see it at the local outdoor store.