In a single second light can circle the Earth 7.5 times, but in a attosecond light would barely manage to move from one end of a molecule to the other end. If we could percieve the world in that timeframe, light would appear to be frozen to us. Another perspective suggest that one attosecond is to a second what the size of an atom is to the size of the entire planet, times 100. Or if you were an immortal living in that timescale, you would live out the entire age of the universe (plus more than that, 37 billion years) in the time it would take a normal person just to blink.
An attosecond (AS) is to a second what a second is to, about, 31.71 billion years.
1×10−18 of a second one quintillionth of a second, followed by 18 zeros
1 000 000 000 000 000 000
Even further, an attosecond is equal to 1000 zeptoseconds, or 1⁄1000 of a femtosecond.
It is quite impossible for the human mind to imagine just how short of a timeframe that is so we always need more examples and comparisons, but for now 12 attoseconds is the shortest measurable period of time.
Atto was derived from the Danish word for eighteen – atten.
But how long is an attosecond?
1 attosecond – represents the time frame it takes for the light to travel the length of two hydrogen atoms;
12 – shortest time interval measured as of 12 May 2010;
24 – the universal atomic unit of time;
43 – the shortest pulse of the laser light;
53 – the second-shortest pulse of laser light;
100 – fastest ever view of molecular motion;
200 – half-life of beryllium-8 (8Be), maximum time available for the triple-alpha process for the synthesis of carbon (C) and other even heavier elements in stars;
320 takes electrons to transfer between atoms.
Now there’s attophysics (10−18 s), also known as attoscience, which is a branch of physics wherein attosecond duration pulses of electrons or photons are used to probe dynamic processes in matter with unprecedented time resolution. The majority of attoscience employs pump–probe methods. One of the primary goals of attosecond science is to provide more insights into the dynamics of electrons in molecules.
Today, attophysicists mostly study molecular phenomena, such as how a particular protein breaks down under X-ray bombardment.
If we go deeper than atto level, in theory, there are:
•Zeptosecond (10−21, zs) is one sextillionth of one second:
2 zs: cycle time of gamma ray radiation released in the decay of a radioactive atomic nucleus;
4 zs: cycle time of the zitterbewegung of an electron.
♦Yoctosecond (10−24, ys) is one septillionth of a second: