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Science

Scientist Investigate A Brand New Form of Matter: Time Crystals (sciencealert.com) 242

The discovery of "non-equilibrium matter" could re-write the rules of physics. Long-time Slashdot reader jasonbrown quotes ScienceAlert: For months now, there's been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals — strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy. Now it's official — researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they've actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new form of matter.
Both teams -- one at Harvard and the other at the University of Maryland -- have submitted their findings to peer-reviewed publications, according to the article, and "the fact that two separate teams have used the same blueprint to make time crystals out of vastly different systems is promising."
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Scientist Investigate A Brand New Form of Matter: Time Crystals

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let me guess, all you need is bleach, ammonia, a penny, and blowing bubbles in it with a soda straw to grow these amazing 'time crystals'?
    • Let me guess, all you need is bleach, ammonia, a penny, and blowing bubbles in it with a soda straw to grow these amazing 'time crystals'?

      You forgot the duct tape and paperclip for straw stabilization...
      also, for long term time crystal storage you'll want an empty cheetos bag,
      the orange powder resists degradation for over 100,000 years unless eaten.

      • the orange powder resists degradation for over 100,000 years unless eaten.

        It actually isn't degraded by eating either. You, and every other Cheeto eater are slowly filling up with orange powder. This situation will be recognized in about a decade and Cheeto dust will be proclaimed a revolutionary new state of matter.

        • the orange powder resists degradation for over 100,000 years unless eaten.

          It actually isn't degraded by eating either. You, and every other Cheeto eater are slowly filling up with orange powder. This situation will be recognized in about a decade and Cheeto dust will be proclaimed a revolutionary new state of matter.

          OK, that explains what the person that cleans the bathroom is complaining about...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This sounds too much like an April Fool's post!

  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Saturday January 28, 2017 @04:51PM (#53755677) Journal

    in their ground state.

    Usually when a material is in ground state, also known as the zero-point energy of a system, it means movement should theoretically be impossible, because that would require it to expend energy.

    However, that would violate quantum electrodynamics, because then you would know the atoms exact momentum and location.
    ???

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Atomic structure of material is not quantum in nature. A rigid crystal very much not quantum.

      Please consider reading comprehension as a goal for this year.

      • I was quoting Richard Feynman, but I guess you're smarter than that.

        • Then cite the quote ....

          • by slew ( 2918 )

            I don't think Feynman said that, but apparently he did write [caltech.edu] this...

            Now although ice has a “rigid” crystalline form, its temperature can change—ice has heat. If we wish, we can change the amount of heat. What is the heat in the case of ice? The atoms are not standing still. They are jiggling and vibrating. So even though there is a definite order to the crystal—a definite structure—all of the atoms are vibrating “in place.” As we increase the temperature, they vibrate with greater and greater amplitude, until they shake themselves out of place. We call this melting. As we decrease the temperature, the vibration decreases and decreases until, at absolute zero, there is a minimum amount of vibration that the atoms can have, but not zero. This minimum amount of motion that atoms can have is not enough to melt a substance, with one exception: helium. Helium merely decreases the atomic motions as much as it can, but even at absolute zero there is still enough motion to keep it from freezing. Helium, even at absolute zero, does not freeze, unless the pressure is made so great as to make the atoms squash together. If we increase the pressure, we can make it solidify.

            I think most physicists would agree that even in the ground state, a crystal will have some "motion" which is related to their zero-point energy.

            • "zero point" energy is something completely different.

              Interesting that he postulates that atmos at absolute zero still have "kinetic energy" ... or vibrations.

        • Don't worry about it. Slashdot is full of them.
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      I would hazard to guess that, in order to measure the material's momentum and location, you must be able to observe it, but that requires the material to emit a particle that can then be captured. Since it is in a ground state, no such particle may be emitted naturally, and if you attempt to inject particles into the system, you've provided the material with energy and thus it is no longer in a ground state. Therefore, while you could in theory know its exact momentum and location if you were able to measur
    • that would violate Heisenber's Uncertainty Principle [wikipedia.org] because then you would know the atoms exact momentum and location.

      FTFY. But you're right.

  • 'twice the period'? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Saturday January 28, 2017 @04:53PM (#53755683) Journal

    The two lasers that were periodically nudging the ytterbium atoms were producing a repetition in the system at twice the period of the nudges, something that couldn't occur in a normal system.

    When they're saying 'twice the period of the nudges', do they mean twice the frequency of the nudges, or twice the duration of the nudges? What I'm after here is, is whether or not they're actually implying that there's more energy coming out of this than is being put into it, and by the way unless I'm totally misreading it, it sounds like this isn't 'perpetual motion' at all, not in the sense I think of 'perpetual motion', because they have to 'nudge' it with a pulse from a laser to cause this effect to occur -- unless what I'm missing here, is that all they have to do is 'nudge' it once, and it starts a self-sustaining oscillation? Even if it's self-sustaining once started, isn't it then in a state of equilibrium regardless, and any attempt to tap into the energy of that oscillation would cause it to stop?

    • The two lasers that were periodically nudging the ytterbium atoms were producing a repetition in the system at twice the period of the nudges, something that couldn't occur in a normal system.
      When they're saying 'twice the period of the nudges', do they mean twice the frequency of the nudges, or twice the duration of the nudges?

      I read it as twice the period. Continuing with the rest of the section you quoted:

      "Wouldn't it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a dif

      • ...
        "Wouldn't it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?" said Yao.

        Not at all:
        - If the jello jiggles at 2 Hz and you tap it every half-second, It's not hard at all to get it to dance indefinitely at four times the rate, one quarter the period, of the periodic stimulus. Ditto a high-Q resonator - like a bell. Hit it at the corresponding phase every Nth cycle, often enough that it doesn't decay appreciably, and the bell will appear to r

  • ... so my watch can use even less energy with the "perpetual moving crystal" as a time base. What, you say it has to be cooled to 0K to actually behave fundamentally different from conventional crystals? Too bad...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    These are just oscillatory systems, of a particular form that have structural integrity as of the dynamics of the system instead of rigidity. Thermodynamics and time going forward are still the same, it's a bit naive to say it's a new form of matter when it's a system of elements.

       

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday January 28, 2017 @05:06PM (#53755729) Homepage

    Perpetual motion machines are allowed by the laws of physics. The galaxy is one for example, it perpetually rotates effectively forever, and by definition beyond what we can measure.

    What IS impossible, is to remove energy from the system. If you do that, any machine stops, eventually, unless you add it back in somehow.

    • The galaxy isn't a machine.

      Perpetual motion is sort of allowed, though actually it'll be radiating energy gravitational waves and will collapse eventually. But a machine, i.e. Something that does work is not.

    • Perpetual motion machines are allowed by the laws of physics. The galaxy is one for example, it perpetually rotates effectively forever, and by definition beyond what we can measure.

      What IS impossible, is to remove energy from the system. If you do that, any machine stops, eventually, unless you add it back in somehow.

      You are confiusing perpetual motion with a perpetual motion machine. In the simplest terms a machine is defined as something that does work. However perpetual motion is the simple act of moving through timespace. A simple photon is in perpetual motion. It will move at c until it hits something and it is absorbed. If the space between it and the closest thing that it can hit is expanding faster then c then it will remain in motion for eternity. This is the reason that there are galaxy's very far away that we

    • The galaxy isn't much different than our solar system or a satellite rotating around the Earth. It emits radiation, it absorbs radiation from other galaxies, and has its own friction. Some numbers may be small, but not zero.

  • I remember reading about some sci-fi author who wanted a huge interstellar space ship millions of miles long but the control system would take hours to affect a course correction so some physicist postulated a cable made of a material with a 4th dimensional component thus cutting communication time way down.

    • I remember reading about some sci-fi author who wanted a huge interstellar space ship millions of miles long but the control system would take hours to affect a course correction so some physicist postulated a cable made of a material with a 4th dimensional component thus cutting communication time way down.

      I think that problem is already solved using quantum-based systems. Heck, with quantum-connected controls and sensors, it would theoretically be possible to control a ship orbiting a distant star in real time from a 'cockpit' on Earth.

      Interesting times, indeed.

      Strat

      • Let's start with quantum-communication ethernet modems.

        • The no-communication theorem may also fall to further research. Heck, if you'd asked scientists 20-30 years ago if it was possible to make the 'time-crystals' TFS/TFA discusses they would have told you it was almost impossible too. I you'd asked scientists 60-80 years ago the same question they'd have likely recommended you be committed to a mental institution.

          Human understanding of our planet, our universe, and what is possible & impossible is still in its infancy.

          Strat

      • This discussion predated quantum coupling by about a decade or so. The news took that long to reach us. ;-)

      • it would theoretically be possible

        No it wouldn't, unless you define "theoretically" as "any shit I make up".

  • ... and Slow Mobious [wikia.com] thinks he's all that.

    ( I hope these researchers are certain about their findings ... )

  • What do you think all the crystals are in the Final Fantasy games?

  • I got bunch of 16MHz time crystals in my electronic parts box.
  • Just like BEC, then. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Bose-Einstein Condensate has exactly the same property,except the regularity. The overlap of the particle wave means that the system moves inevitably, re-creating the bulk through time on the same organisation as the space bulk organisation.

  • This sounds interesting to say the least, but I'd be more interested to hear about what potential applications these "time crystals" might be used for.

    High-density storage? Super-batteries? Time portals?

  • Dilithium has the same sort of structure.
    If you want to cleave a dilithium crystal you have to whack it last month, hit it now, and tap it lightly a week from next tuesday.

    Can't find the citation on memory alpha; must have been one of the novels.

  • No. It's scientists* investigate.

    There are two teams. This is not one scientist. How does the OP not know the difference between singular and plural?

  • I can't imagine time crystals but can I buy a bag of them to go? What could a man do with 20 lbs. of time crystals?
    • Perhaps they could spread them on the ground in winter time so that people don't slip and fall on the ice?

  • and no reference to Blinx.

    You know, I really liked that game.

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