Allan Variance – Spirit of Revelation

The Spirit of Revelation

Sir Isaac Newton, who is best known for his contribution to the scientific revolution of the 17th century stated: “Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation. I keep the subject constantly before me and wait ’til the first dawning opens slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light.”

What a beautiful narrative describing the spirit of revelation.

In the early 1800’s the Prophet Joseph Smith’s thoughts on this topic seem most poignant: “THE SPIRIT OF REVELATION is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i. e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. [Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 3: 381.)]

Both Issac Newton’s experience and Joseph Smith’s summery compliment Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of “Revelation”.

A: “An act of revealing or communicating divine truth. B: something that is revealed by God to humans. C: an act of revealing to view or making known. D: something that is revealed especially E. an enlightening or astonishing disclosure “

My “Spirit of Revelation” Experience

After getting my bachelor’s degree in physics at BYU, we moved to Boulder, Colorado, with a goal of getting a doctorate, and then return to teach and do research at the “Y.”  In 1965 I was working on my Master’s thesis and doing the research at NBS, where I was employed full time with the atomic-clock group.  At this same time a major change in our plans was taking place, orchestrated by the Lord. A call was extended to me to serve in the Boulder Ward bishopric in our church, which would be very demanding of my time and make it impossible for me to get a Ph.D.

I made it an intense matter of fasting (3 plus days) and prayer and received a profound answer, which changed my life forever.  The Spirit whispered that this was His call, and it was in preparation for me to be a bishop, which happened the following year.  I served as a bishop for six years and as the Boulder Stake President for ten years.  We ended up staying in Colorado for 32 years.

“Thy will be done.” exemplified the perfect life our Savior — always desiring to do the will of the Father. In our fallen world, we are prone to think our will is best – to do what we want to do. To submit to the will of the Father is our choice; He will not force.  I am 82 years young; my hope in writing this is to give motivation to you young people.  Who would have believed a farm boy from Mapleton, Utah, could have done all this.  I claim no more brilliance than anyone else.  My sense is that I will do more good hence forth than I have done before sharing Light and Truth through my book and blog articles.  The key is to seek and do the will of the Father.

The Gift of the “Allan Variance”

I am totally convinced that the insights needed and were given for the following work, would not have come had I rejected the call to serve.  I learned this profound and important lesson, that if I will do things the Lord’s way, He will bless me greatly. I became the praying physicist and have been able to make several other major contributions that have impacted the world community for good in my field of endeavor.

 Allan Variance Benefits

The Allan variance (AVAR), which was given birth in my master’s thesis in 1965, has grown in its usefulness since.  A year later in February it was published in a special issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE.  A year ago I got 50,000 hits searching “Allan variance” on Google; now I get 91,000 hits. I have been invited to Russia twice during this decade, and they gave be a special award for the usefulness of the Allan variance.  My colleagues there with better search engines said they found two million hits on the internet for the “Allan variance.”

The following are some its uses:
1.     AVAR is used through out the world for characterizing the best atomic clocks, and I was invited to consult for the APOLLO program regarding their timing problems.
2.     In 1968, I believe the Lord gave me the inspiration for the AT1 time-scale algorithm used in optimally combining the readings of an ensemble of atomic clocks to generate official time for the USA and it is still ticking.  AVAR was used in its design as well as later on in the design of the algorithm for the generation of International Atomic Time (TAI) and official world time, UTC (Universal Time Coordinated).
3.     AVAR was used in the 1970s for characterizing the atomic clocks needed for the GPS.  The makers of GPS came to NBS to learn from my colleagues and me how to best use atomic clocks, which are the heart of how GPS works.
4.     AVAR was the basis for developing the Modified Allan variance (MVAR) in 1981.
5.     MVAR provided more information about atomic clock performance.
6.     MVAR became widely used in characterizing the performance of navigation systems, gyros, and the like.
7.     MVAR became very useful in characterizing the performance of frequency transmissions and distribution systems.
8.     In the late 1980s the telecom community asked me help them with a measure for characterizing their networks.  MVAR was the basis for the development of the Time variance (TVAR), which was quickly adopted by the telecom community nationally and internationally.
9.     TVAR is extremely useful in characterizing the performance of time distribution systems.
10.  I used TVAR to characterize the spectrum of the civil GPS signal, and then designed a filter to remove the degradation present so that the civil sector had military performance for precise timing; special receivers were built and sold around the world to synchronize cell phone towers using this technique.
11.  AVAR was used to develop a GPS common-view timing receiver greatly improving the stability and timing performance TAI and UTC.
12.  NASA/JPL funded my group at NBS to develop these unique GPS common-view timing receivers for greatly improving the timing for their Deep Space Network (DSN) for tracking the satellites used to explore our solar system.
13. I took one of these GPS common-view receivers to the Arecibo Observatory to help improve the timing needed for millisecond pulsar research.  Using AVAR and their data, I was able to show that the electron content over the 12 thousand light-year path between the pulsar and earth was a random-walk process and show evidence of the pulsar being a binary.
14.  TVAR is now used to characterize the performance of laser combs needed for the measurement of optical atomic clocks, which now have the best performance in the world – like a second in 30 billion years.
15.  I was given the inspiration for a unique Dual Mixer Time Difference (DMTD) technique, which allows the better use of these variances for the best atomic clocks in the world.
16.  I used TVAR to document the performance of an Advanced GPS common-view receiver design that Robin Giffard and I developed at HP, which has the potential to be better than any other means now known for comparing state-of-the-art atomic clocks around the world.

17.   My thesis demonstrates that the classical variance concept taught at universities around the world is like taking a black and white picture of a rainbow; you get intensity of variations, but no color.  AVAR, MVAR, and TVAR give you full color of the different kinds of variations observed in atomic clocks and in nature.

Because of the significance of the usefulness of these variances, the IEEE/UFFC celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of my master’s thesis, which gave birth to the Allan variance, by publishing a special issue of their journal with several authors contributing, and sharing several other areas of application as well.

An Eye Single to the Glory of God

I thank the Lord for His enormous and continual blessings in my life. I believe, like Newton, that as we seek the will of the Father to best serve His children, we will accomplish the greatest good and fulfill our missions in mortality. This will bring the greatest fulfillment and joy to us personally as well as be most pleasing to Him whom we are serving. As we best serve His children, we are best serving Him.  As I share in my book, Newton spent more time studying the Bible than he did doing science.

I give credit to the Lord for the ideas that have come to me in striving to do His will with the goal that they may be a blessing to His children. Self-aggrandizement needs be removed from our motivation and replaced by true humility (teachability) for the Spirit to best work with us.

No one at the time had any idea of how useful the “Allan variance” would become.  I didn’t name it; my Section Chief did.  Few people have something named after them while they are still alive. It is an honor that I did not seek.  It is not my variance, it is the Lord’s revelation, and I thank Him for His continual guidance.  My goal is to serve and share light and truth as best I can.  I am pleased that the IEEE came to our home in November 2018 and conducted an ORAL HISTORY, which will better help me share what the Lord has taught me.  I have been privileged to “stand on the shoulders of giants” during my career path as well and I thank all of them for their enormous help.

W. H. Murray profoundly stated:
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, Always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, Then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Then do it with an eye single to the Glory of God; this then will allow us to best use our time and talents to serve His children in the best way – optimizing our joy and theirs.

David W Allan