Primary time standard
The international second is based on the microwave frequency (9,192,631,770 Hz) associated with the atomic resonance of the hyperfine ground state levels of the caesium-133 atom in a magnetically neutral environment. Realizable caesium frequency standards use a strong electromagnet to deliberately introduce a magnetic field which overwhelms that of the Earth. The presence of this strong magnetic field introduces a slight, but known, increase in the atomic resonance frequency. However, very small variations in the calibration of the electric current in the electromagnet introduce minuscule frequency variations among different caesium oscillators.