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Physicists Propose "Perpetual Motion" Time Crystals 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the four-harmonic-corner-days dept.
First time accepted submitter b30w0lf writes "It is commonly understood that crystals exist in a state of matter that is periodic in space. Meanwhile, relativistic physics tells us that we should think of time as being a physical dimension, given similar status to the other spacial dimensions. The combination of these two ideas has lead researchers at the University of Kentucky and MIT to propose special manifestations of matter which would be periodic in both space and time, dubbed 'time crystals.' Time crystals would continually transition between a set of physical states in a kind of perpetual motion. Note: the articles stress that this kind of perpetual motion in no way violates the established laws of thermodynamics. While time crystals remain theoretical, methods have been proposed for creating them. The most obvious application of time crystals is the creation of very precise clocks; however, other applications to time crystals have been proposed, ranging from quantum computing to helping us understand certain cosmological models."
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Physicists Propose "Perpetual Motion" Time Crystals

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @07:43PM (#41664519)

    So it should have been flux time crystals, not the flux capacitor...

    Now, where's that Delorean???

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @07:49PM (#41664557)


  • by roidzrus (2739093) on Monday October 15, 2012 @07:53PM (#41664575)
    I'm pretty sure this is what the Power Rangers used to beat Lord Zedd.
  • by future assassin (639396) on Monday October 15, 2012 @07:56PM (#41664595) Homepage

    I'm sure when I re-read it after smoking a couple of joints.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      nope, way ahead of ya mate.
      Vodka's not working either.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Not sure about that. It doesn't seem like a whole lot new.

      All matter already has a 'perpetual motion' setup anyway. It's often called 'zero point energy'. I believe it's related to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but can be ound without assuming the HUP. At the lowest possible vibrational state, an object still has vibrational energy - meaning it is still vibrating. Even if the direction is random, this is perpetual motion.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't want any unforeseen consequences.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is how it starts. First we get some time crystals, then the next thing you know some asshole is creating a race of genetically engineered aliens to destroy earth by manipulating the time stream.

  • by KBentley57 (2017780) on Monday October 15, 2012 @07:58PM (#41664613)
    If one reads the article, in the last paragraph the statement occurs: "Time crystals may sound dangerously close to a perpetual motion machine, but it is worth emphasizing one key difference: while time crystals would indeed move periodically in an eternal loop, rotation occurs in the ground state, with no work being carried out nor any usable energy being extracted from the system." They aren't proposing "mechanical perpetual motion" like we are probably all thinking at first glance. The crystal isn't doing anything abnormal. No energy is to be gained from the system, so at least mechanically, nothing is happening.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      A energy state about nothing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Perpetual motion is one of Newton's Laws: an object in motion tends to stay in motion.
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday October 15, 2012 @10:21PM (#41665365)

      so at least mechanically, nothing is happening.

      It's like calling electrons around a proton a "perpetual motion machine". You get perpetual motion, so long as you don't extract energy from it. In fact, from that definition, the heat death of the universe is itself a perpetual motion machine, as everything will be vibrating/moving in entropy. No work may be extracted.

      • so at least mechanically, nothing is happening.

        It's like calling electrons around a proton a "perpetual motion machine". You get perpetual motion, so long as you don't extract energy from it. In fact, from that definition, the heat death of the universe is itself a perpetual motion machine, as everything will be vibrating/moving in entropy. No work may be extracted.

        By that definition everything is a perpetual motion machine.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Everything is. The problem is that "perpetual motion" is taken to be "perpetual motion, even when work is being done" or "more energy out than energy in". There's nothing wrong with "perpetual motion" A pendulum in a vacuum is a perpetual motion machine, the problem is there is no ideal frictionless string, or perfect vacuum. But even if you did make one, you'd never get any useful work from it.
      • by radtea (464814)

        It's like calling electrons around a proton a "perpetual motion machine".

        There's actually a book from the '50's or '60's by physicist Alan Stewart called "Perpetual Motion" that uses exactly this hook to talk about atomic physics (long out of print, and I can't find anything about it via the Great Search Engine, so perhaps it's all in my imagination.)

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        No work may be extracted.

        You sure speak of my workstation... while reading /.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @12:49AM (#41666055)

      That is literally the meaning of perpetual motion. What they don't claim is free energy.

    • by jfengel (409917)

      In what way is it different from the periodic motion of a pendulum or a planet?

      Periodic motion is nothing new. The conservation of momentum and energy in the absence of friction or other forces is also old hat, and nobody thinks it's anything akin to perpetual motion. So what's going on here that's actually novel?

    • by radtea (464814)

      The last paragraph also suggests that universe might be in such a state of bi-periodic motion, and then asks, "if such a state requires an observer to make it work, who is the observer in the case of the universe?" or something like that.

      The idea that "observation" of a quantum system requires consciousness is controversial at best, and generally not held by working physicists, although mathematicians like Penrose sometimes argue for it.

      Beyond that, the question seems like an open invitation to answer in te

  • Could the postulated cyclic evolution of the Universe be seen as a manifestation of spontaneous symmetry breaking akin to that of a time crystal? If so, who is the observer inducing--by a measurement--the breaking of the symmetry of time?


    Jesus said, "Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live."
    Salome said, "Who are you, man, that you ... have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?"
    Jesus said to her, "I am he who exists from the undivided. I was given some of the
  • by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:16PM (#41664721) Journal

    Do these crystals have a cubic structure?

    Maybe we were all educated stupid after all...


  • Well, I hope not [wikipedia.org].

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@NOsPam.yahoo.com> on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:17PM (#41664731)

    It's where Krypton keeps their most dangerous criminals, duh!

  • why not build a time cube?

    i know of a distinguished scientist who has spoken at numerous universities, including MIT, on his groundbreaking work in this area:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Cube#Public_reaction [wikipedia.org]

    note: if you visit http://timecube.com/ [timecube.com] for the first time in a decade, like i just did, you discover that gene ray has been experimenting with javascript, but i don't think he got the effect he was looking for. i think he is trying to profit from clicks, but i think he mangled the code and you get a page redirect whenever you try to load his site. i guess deep knowledge of time cubez does not translate into mad html skillz

  • by Sarusa (104047) on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:22PM (#41664759)

    One key point that makes it not a free energy machine is that you can't actually read it or otherwise do anything useful with it (nor can it do anything) without spending extra external energy.

    And in any normal situation, like sitting in a room on Earth, you might even have to spend energy keeping it undisturbed by things like thermal jostling (i.e., cooled to near absolute zero).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One key point that makes it not a free energy machine is that you can't actually read it or otherwise do anything useful with it (nor can it do anything) without spending extra external energy.

      Well, even if you can't, I think it would be cool if you routed your car's power through a perpetual motion machine, just to say one was involved.

  • ZPM (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Ryan101 (1698614)
    Stargate SG-1 called; they want their ZPM back.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      ZPM's aren't even perpetual motion devices, they have limited (but extremely high) energy capacity.

  • Back to the 70's, and ancient Atlantis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Monster [wikipedia.org]

  • I was expecting to see the article authored by Rick Marshall.

  • by Dr. Tom (23206) <tomh@nih.gov> on Monday October 15, 2012 @09:15PM (#41665001) Homepage

    it is a co-dimension.

    if you don't understand the difference, go study

  • Somehow, that's what comes to mind when I think about this...

    Of course the reality is that it requires some sort of symmetry breaking field (where the mathematics work out like an oscillating soliton).

    The problem of course is that if such a minimum energy oscillating system existed, you would likely not be able to use it like a clock since once you attempted to measure it somehow, you would likely disturb in a way where it would no longer be accurate going forward.

    Maybe this could be used in some weird thou

  • ...they're gonna take all of our jobs!
  • Crystals (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Coppit (2441)

    Everyone knows the time crystals have a 4-sided shape [timecube.com].

  • Crystals really have amazing and out-of-this-world powers!

    Now where is my mithra porn, damnit?

  • Pretty sure they use this stuff in TARDISes.

  • the interesting bit, at the end, is about how this type of thinking makes a cyclic universe seem explainable as a time crystal, which i mean to take as a no-energy gain or loss ground state oscillating between it's states. but it was pretty hard making that sort of assumption, myself. i wonder what they see about that that fits our model so well; perhaps just because we have some math for it, being the universal language, pun intended.

  • It occurs to me ... how large are normal crystals? Has anyone ever heard of a crystal a light-second across? If the size of a time crystal corresponds to the size of normal crystals ... picoseconds? Not very practical.

  • I started reading and just stopped after the first paragraph:
    "Spontaneous symmetry breaking is ubiquitous in nature. It occurs when the ground state (classically, the lowest energy state) of a system is less symmetrical than the equations governing the system. Examples in which the symmetry is broken in excited states are common—one just needs to think of Kepler’s elliptical orbits, which break the spherical symmetry of the gravitational force"

    Can someone educate me, as this appears to be cargo

  • some think time isnthe fourth dimension..

    for others, the Fourth Dimension is Heat!!


  • Relativistic physics can tell us whatever it likes, but it's quite obvious that time isn't a physical dimension and it's in no way similar to the spatial dimensions. You can move through the spatial dimensions, because all points (x, y, and z) actually exist. But only the present exists in time - everything else either has gone and doesn't exist any more or hasn't come yet and doesn't exist yet. It may all look similar mathematically, but in reality it isn't. And nobody will ever prove otherwise.

  • Is it April Fools in October?

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982