Chapter 38: Atomic Clock
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The next day during lunch break, in a production department of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation, Chen Gang was trying to solve his mystery.
“Be careful with it, Technician Zheng! It was a gift from my son. Please don’t break it.” Standing close to the operating station, Chen Gang kept reminding the technician how important the watch was, even though it was just a $12 watch.
“I get it, I get it. Stop worrying, will you? I’m the National Super Technician. I know exactly what I’m doing. But if you think otherwise, by all means, find someone else to do it for you.” Technician Zheng put down the screwdriver and looked at Chen Gang from the corner of his eyes, seeming displeased and offended. He was the best and the most senior technician in the Department of Landing Gear Design and Development. Everyone listened and did as he said, even though he came from a poor family and didn’t get a good education. Even the chief designer in the department called him “Old Zheng” whenever he saw him.
Technician Zheng thought that the vice president of the company, Chen Gang, was a decent man of knowledge, and had agreed to help him solve the mystery when he came to him for help earlier that day. But who knew he’d turn out to be such a pain?
“I’m sorry, Technician Zheng, I’ll stay away and let you do your work.” Chen Gang quickly apologized. The truth was, it wasn’t like he couldn’t do it himself. He was good with his hands, but his vision wasn’t as good as it used to be, and there were eight screw fixings around the watch that were thinner than a string of hair invisible to the naked eye. He had no choice but to ask Technician Zheng for help, who had the steadiest hands in the production department.
Seeing that Chen Gang had learned to stay quiet, Technician Zheng was pleased. He took the smallest screwdriver and began to unscrew the mechanical watch in front of him very carefully, trying to take a look at the complex structures and designs on the inside.
Chen Gang held his breath as he watched. His face was filled with exhilaration. However, his state of mind was not in alignment with what his face showed. He was anxious on the inside.
The truth…will soon be revealed.
He still could not believe that this $12 knock-off watch that he’d been wearing for two months still had no time deviation! The time was exactly the same as the standard electric time. And it was a mechanical watch! The kind of watch that used mainspring as a power source and was meant to have time deviation.
For example, the world-famous mechanical watch brand, Rolex, had a time deviation of ±30 seconds in every 24 hours. Longines, the most high-end, luxury watch brand in Switzerland, whose watches were mostly custom-made and designed by exceptional watchmakers, had a time deviation of less than two minutes per month.
But these internationally respected watch brands were nothing compared to this $12 knock-off mechanical watch Chen Gang had. Because there was still no time deviation even after two months! In fact, he had already noticed something strange about this high accuracy watch in the first two weeks, but he didn’t pay much attention to it at first.
That is, until a month later, when the watch remained perfectly precise; then, he finally took it seriously and realized how unusual the knock-off watch was. The curiosity inside of him got stronger and stronger the following month, making him decide to investigate and get to the bottom of how this watch really worked.
As a senior technician for landing gear design and development, “high-grade, precision, and advanced” were the three most suitable words one could use to describe Chen Gang. In addition to that, his career had helped him develop his attention-to-detail ability, which made him very sensitive to accuracy and precision.
And he checked the time on his watch every single day…
As a result, all of his energy had been drained by this knock-off watch over the past month! Now it was time for him to end the misery and find out exactly what was going on with the knock-off watch!
Technician Zheng’s micromanipulation skill really was top notch. Two hours later, all the screws and nails around the mechanical watch had been unscrewed. The carbon fiber back cover was slowly opened. In front of Chen Gang and Technician Zheng, the bright color of the movements, the cogwheels, and the balance spring on the inside lit up their faces with silver gloss.
Technician Zheng was stunned. “I…I would say there are at least 10,000 components in this watch!” There were several even smaller parts that could only be seen under an industrial microscope.
With the help of the microscope, the parts that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye now looked like a massive busy factory where all the cogwheels worked with one another harmoniously.
Suddenly, behind a unique, obscure device that was just the size of a thumb, Chen Gang saw with his amazed, overwhelmed eyes, the answer to why the knock-off watch was unbelievably accurate.
“Atomic clock! There is an atomic clock installed that helps the watch regulate to the correct time deviation!”
There was a display screen that was just as small as a grain of rice on the surface of the atomic clock; on the screen, there was a long line of numbers: 9192601770, which indicated the number of times the cesium atom vibrated per second, approximately calculating the time deviation of the atomic clock, which was less than one second in 100,000 years.
“This is inconceivable!” Chen Gang shook his head fiercely. “How is it possible for an atomic clock to be this tiny? Even the smallest one in the world is the size of a music box, which is 10 times bigger than this one right here! How could it be so microscopic like this?”
Technician Zheng, on the other hand, was in great shock. He muttered to himself as his hands trembled. “Is this really how far behind we are compared to western countries? How are we going to catch up? We’ve already spent 30, 40 years working day and night trying to make a change; does this mean we still need 30 more years to reach the possibility of developing the advanced technology the western countries already have?” The problem was, Technician Zheng was already 60 years old; how was he going to be around when his country outdid the rest of the world? Am I just going to continue to despair? It turned out that Technician Zheng thought the English letters on the watch meant it was a masterpiece from the western world. Which also meant that the enormous gap between his country and the western countries would not be bridged any time soon. He was devastatingly overwhelmed by his innate inferiority.
Good thing was, it was business hours, which meant that everyone else was working. They were the only two that were slacking off, and also the only ones that were bewildered. For Chen Gang, though, it was more confusing and surprising. He was surprised that this was only a $12 dollar watch from some street vendor…
“There has got to be more than just this one; watches are industrialized products! I’ve already got one, I might find a second one, a third one… then I would be able to understand the technology behind this advanced watch!”
Realizing how exceedingly valuable this could be, Chen Gang picked up his phone and made a call.
“I must ask my son and find out where that street vendor is!”
At the Industry and Commerce Administration Bureau, with just a phone call from Chen Jin’s mother, the people in the office processed his papers efficiently. The procedure would normally take three business day, but Chen Jin surely was going to get his licenses within one day.
The one in charge was a female director who was also a friend his mother’s. Dong Lei, in her 40’s, was a charming middle-aged lady. This female director was very talkative and passionate. She asked quite a few questions whilst handling Chen Jin’s papers:
“Little Chen, what makes you want to start a jewelry store?
“Are you starting the jewelry store all by yourself? It’s a large store and it’s your first start-up business; are you sure you can do it?
“Is your family going to help you?”
Chen Jin answered all her questions one by one. He said he started the jewelry store by himself, yes, and he took care of all the funds needs without asking for a penny from his parents; he also had hired someone to manage the store. It was true that he didn’t know much about the industry, but he was willing to learn from the people that did to achieve his goals!
Dong Lei nodded. With the kid’s attitude and confidence, she knew she was right! There was no way He Li’s son was a mommy’s boy! Rather, he was definitely a young man with ideas, plans, and ambition. Sure, he didn’t do well academically, but he was courteous and organized. He made a much better impression compared to all the other young men from wealthy families who had excellent transcripts and charismatic looks.
Moreover, he didn’t boast about himself or indulge in loud and empty talk, and he faced his problems upfront. All in all, he seemed like a very down-to-earth, practical young man.
Dong Lei really liked him. But she was confused at the same time. Is he really a mommy’s boy? There must have been some misunderstanding between Lin Lin and him. A wise woman like Director He wouldn’t raise a son like that, would she? There was definitely a misunderstanding!
Dong Lei had been there, done that; she knew first impressions weren’t always reliable when it came to dating. It was not a good idea to paint it all with the same brush. Now that she’d done the inspection personally, she decided Chen Jin was unquestionably good enough for her daughter…
After his licenses were approved, Dong Lei handed them over to Chen Jin, took out her phone, and said, “Here, Little Chen, add me on WeChat. Send me a text whenever you need help. Stay in touch.”
Chen Jin was exhilarated. “Thank you so much, Auntie Dong. I appreciate it! Let me take you to dinner after my store’s grand opening!”
“You’re very welcome. Keep up the good work. I wish you all the best.” Dong Lei smiled.
“See you later then, Auntie Dong. I’ll leave you to it.” Chen Jin then earnestly put the licenses in his briefcase, walking out of the office with a broad smile on his face.
All of a sudden, his phone rang. It was his dad.
“Son, can you come over to my office? I have something extremely important I need to ask you about.”