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Physicists Attempting To Test 'Time Crystals'

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the where's-The-Doctor-when-you-need-him dept.

Science 231

ceview writes "This story at Wired seems to have lots of people a bit confused: 'In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of "time crystals" — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. ... [A] Berkeley-led team will attempt to build a time crystal by injecting 100 calcium ions into a small chamber surrounded by electrodes. The electric field generated by the electrodes will corral the ions in a "trap" 100 microns wide, or roughly the width of a human hair. The scientists must precisely calibrate the electrodes to smooth out the field. Because like charges repel, the ions will space themselves evenly around the outer edge of the trap, forming a crystalline ring.' The experimental set up is incredibly delicate (Bose Einstein Condensate), so it implies this perpetual motion effect can't really be used to extract energy. What is your take on it? It's unlike to upend anything, as the article suggests, because at a quantum level things behave weirdly at the best of times. The heavy details are available at the arXiv."

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Bose never got a Nobel (5, Interesting)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598199)

How the heck is it that Satyendar Nath Bose didn't get a Nobel prize?

I guess back then they didn't know how awesome his ideas were?

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598229)

They still don't now... I barely understand what is on his wiki page. It bears further research.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598243)

How the heck is it that Satyendar Nath Bose didn't get a Nobel prize?
I guess back then they didn't know how awesome his ideas were?

Actually, he only created speakers. Generally awesome speakers, yes, but just speakers none-the-less.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598391)

Bose? Awesome? Really?

I heard this phrase while I was in the states, "No highs, no lows, must be Bose". I thought it a little harsh at the time, but in general I haven't been overly impressed with Bose products.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598447)

Unless something changed with them in the past 5 years or so, Bose are designed to be appealing to people without being good. The thing is, most people are plenty happy with that.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (2, Funny)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598477)

bose makes girly sound systems

real men spend thousands of dollars trying to cram four 18 inch subwoofers into their supra, along with nitro and a v12 chevy... no hood required

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598763)

If the sound system doesn't give you involuntary bowel movements, it's not a real sound system.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (5, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598907)

If the sound system doesn't give you involuntary bowel movements, it's not a real sound system.

Is that a "true sharts, man" argument?

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0, Offtopic)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598599)

Bose? Awesome? Really?

I heard this phrase while I was in the states, "No highs, no lows, must be Bose". I thought it a little harsh at the time, but in general I haven't been overly impressed with Bose products.

The Bose 901 speakers are really quite good. [tonepublications.com]
The original 901s are what launched the company back in the late 60s.
Most of their other consumer audio equipment is extremely over-priced. Their professional stuff tends to not suck though.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0, Offtopic)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598761)

The factory fitted Bose system that came with my car (2004 Mazda 6 sports) is nothing short of fucking awesome, I don't give a flying fuck what audiophiles think about it because at the end of the day music is an emotional experience not a technical one.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0, Offtopic)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598845)

I would put their car systems in the "professional" line - it isn't really consumer in that each one is custom-designed for the specific car and sold to the auto manufacturer. You can't buy them as an aftermarket product, only as a factory option.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43599055)

I used some Bose 802 Deluxe speakers through an Ampeg bass amp. It sounded pretty good playing through them in a club. But otherwise I suppose you can get more for the same money with their home setups.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598395)

Generally awesome speakers

I was always under the impression that BOSE meant Buy Other Sound Equipment

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598535)

Generally awesome speakers

I was always under the impression that BOSE meant Buy Other Sound Equipment

JBL: Junk But Loud.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598985)

If by awesome, you mean overpriced, distorted and marketed to idiots, then, yes they are awesome. If I were Satyendar Nath Bose, I would consider a name changes to as not to get confused with the biggest snake oil seller in the audio world.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598297)

Nobel prizes are greatly overrated and don't deserve worship. The guy probably had personal politics that didn't agree with the prize committee's.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (5, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598315)

Well, there are four sides to that question. It's going to take simultaneous 24-hour corner days to come up with an answer.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (3, Insightful)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598469)

if runaway government spending gets you a nobel prize in economics, i shudder to think what kind of experiment is required to win the physics category

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (1, Interesting)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598681)

if runaway government spending gets you a nobel prize in economics, i shudder to think what kind of experiment is required to win the physics category

I thought the trendy economists were all deranged fruitbat rightwing extreme free-marketeers at the moment? Or is Keynesianism coming back into fashion now that so-called austerity measures have been seen through by most normal people?

In any event, the idea that economics is some sort of objective science outside politics is total crap. Whether you're left or right wing.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598909)

maybe the economist really do know what their talking about. i didn't goto collage for such things, it seems to be runaway govt spending, but like fdr and his debt, this debt too will shrink massively soon as the economy starts to expand.

and yes, bose are great! u can goto walmart and buy them. where as the super good professional speakers you have to order from some off brand website and hope the pictures are true. id say bose is the top of consumer products. over priced they are...

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (1, Troll)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598931)

It certainly doesn't look like you went to college to improve your writing skills.

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598973)

Not sure, but most likely end up also getting a Darwin Award

Re:Bose never got a Nobel (4, Insightful)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599081)

I guess it would be similar to winning a Nobel Peace Prize by running an experiment in 'peace' by a president with a kill list and an apparent case of latent bloodlust.

Implies? "Can't really"? (2)

vistapwns (1103935) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598217)

Can we get something more definite than that? I mean if the submitter doesn't know, and it sounds like he doesn't, why even say anything.

Re:Implies? "Can't really"? (1)

ThePeices (635180) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598293)

Thats what I was thinking too.

Wouldn't it be best for them to announce something when they actually get the experiment working?

It would stop everyone getting disappointed if it turns out not to work, and make the announcement more credible if it does work.

Re:Implies? "Can't really"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598501)

From your .sig:

I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease." - Linus Torvalds

Color me infected. Microsoft are a bunch of thieving backstabbing pricks. They deserve contempt and hatred.

Re:Implies? "Can't really"? (-1, Redundant)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598689)

From your .sig:

I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease." - Linus Torvalds

Color me infected. Microsoft are a bunch of thieving backstabbing pricks. They deserve contempt and hatred.

They are indeed, but so are all other large tech (or non-tech) corporations. Google and Apple might have better PR with the geek crowd, but they're all the same deep down.

The irrationality in hating Microsoft is in singling them out as something egregious.

Re:Implies? "Can't really"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598783)

I think it comes from past experience. Whenever Microsoft wanted to enter a particular market segment for their strategic objectives, they'd buy up one company or at least give them a large contract, flooding them with cash to the extent that no other startup would ever get funding. For the bought up company employees, they could expect to be shuffled around to suit Microsoft's needs. Too bad if you had landed your dream job. Consequently many will avoid going anywhere near Microsoft.
Then there is the "UNIX is legacy, Windows NT is the future" kill UNIX campaign from the mid-1990's, which made many of the big companies like SGI and HP abandon their own flavors like Irix, HP-UX in favor of Windows NT.

Newton? (5, Insightful)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598221)

From the article: "How can something move, and keep moving forever, without expending energy? It seemed an absurd idea — a major break from the accepted laws of physics. "

Isn't that what Newton's first law of motion says? Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. Clearly the article isn't explaining this properly.

Re:Newton? (5, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598245)

That makes sense if you don't take into account that these puppies will be going around in a circle - without the initial velocity. First law of motion works for orbits - the objects are effectively moving in a straight line but the curviture of space around the planet/body/star is making their straight line circular. From what I can understand of this article (I haven't read the arxiv version, nor will it likely make sense to me anyhow) the interesting thing is that the scientists aren't starting them in a spin - they expect that they will start spinning on their own.

Re:Newton? (1)

trollboy (46578) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598361)

They also can not perform work, so.. no energy created.

Re:Newton? (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598507)

They also can not perform work,

Being observed is performing work.

Re:Newton? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598975)

Being observed is performing work.

That's not what my boss says!

Re: Newton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598987)

And what if the act of observation interferes with the experiment to make it not work?

Sometimes I love "what ifs", but only when it comes to physics.

Re:Newton? (5, Funny)

yahwotqa (817672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599023)

Yeah, just ask any stripper.

Re:Newton? (4, Informative)

shadowmas (697397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598415)

If i understand the article correctly it's not just going round in a circle like a planet but "jumping" around specific point around the circle like a clock hand. it appears from one point to the other without being in between. But rest of your point still applies.

Re:Newton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598287)

Our language may fail us as our logic fails us in the world of the very small. Obviously the common mind would conclude that a containment force acts upon that which it contains much like a cowboy acts on a herd of cattle. However we learn about perfect elasticity in chemistry classes so we already have a situation where it is agreed that particles can repel each other without loss of energy. Laws of physics vary with the scale of the object in question. Logic suggests that we can therefore say with some authority that laws of physics are variables depending upon location or focus and that sort of shoots astro-physics square in the foot. We may need to create terms in our informal languages so that concepts in science do not become a linguistic or logical impossibility.

Re:Newton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598547)

Logic doesn't fail us, incorrect information does, usually in the form of assumptions. Also it doesn't suggest that the laws are variable, it suggests that they aren't the laws.

Re:Newton? (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598753)

However we learn about perfect elasticity in chemistry classes so we already have a situation where it is agreed that particles can repel each other without loss of energy.

In science, elasticity is a phenomenon of physics, not chemistry. Yes, there is the CONCEPT of perfect elasticity, and NO, it doesn't exist in reality [tutorvista.com] .

Re:Newton? (1)

ceview (2857765) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598289)

I think the idea is that these atoms would do the equivalent of bob up and down without any external energy input. It's kind of analogous to observing an astronomical object moving in an orbit in the absence of a central massive object. That's how I would interpret it. Because this is happening at a super cooled state you could not extract energy from this system because that would disturb it ( ie Heisenberg's uncertainty principle comes into play). I speculate this effect may occur but it would not have any real large macroscopic relevance.

Re:Newton? (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598327)

From what I can read in the linked article, the energy is supposed to be taken out of the system by laser cooling. At a low energy state the ions are then supposed to develop a cyclical motion, rather then a continuous one. Such that they wouldn't be moving at a constant velocity. Without adding energy this is not supposed to happen as we understand it. Or thats the idea behind the experiment, to see if it will. I don't grasp what made Wilczek think they would behave this way in the first place, other then crystals having certain spatial properties because of the charge of their ions.

Re:Newton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598905)

Not only that, but there are plenty of examples of 'perpetual motion' in quantum mechanics, and they have been known for almost as long as quantum mechanics has been around. Any chemistry undergraduate will be able to tell you about the quantum harmonic oscillator [wikipedia.org] , a model for the vibration of chemical bonds in which the lowest energy level involves some vibration. And of course, since it is the lowest possible energy level, no work can be extracted from the system. Its hardly a major break from the accepted laws of physics.

I'm not quite clear on how these 'time crystals' differ - it it simply the greater sophistication of the system, or perhaps the system is large enough that is can be considered to follow classical physics?

Re:Newton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598995)

You are quite correct about the motion remaining in motion... But the problem is that if the motion occurs it will be linear unless action is by an external force. Assuming you can move something in a ring, a fact fairly well observed with rotating things and not lose energy then something else is going on and it is big in physics. The issue goes to the very heart of matter and existence of structures and matter.
There is another really big issue out there. If force diminishes by the inverse squares law, and an EM field obviously does, and if this force uniformly with its strength affects the motion of objects around it, how can any EM field move? The obvious reality here is that it could not. How can I move a magnet? It should be locked by the field effects at distance. This stuff has to do with what energy is and how it works.

Re:Newton? (0)

DigitalReverend (901909) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599143)

I think Newton's first law only applies to space, maybe we need to start figuring out some laws for time.

Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598223)

I didn't know that anyone had a problem with perpetual motion on frictionless surfaces. After all... isn't that how galaxies keep spinning forever? If there's no friction then there's no entropy and of course you can keep doing it.

Am I missing something here?

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

vistapwns (1103935) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598259)

Not sure if you meant what that says, but galaxies don't spin forever, they eventually end up in a black hole. Now that's a long time out, but this thing is supposed to actually spin *forever*, not get degraded by any other physical process, well that's how I read it anyway, I'm not a physicist.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598285)

My understanding, and appreciate I am a layman, is that blackholes themselves spin and the spin of the blackhole is determined by the spin of things that fell into it. That is, the angular momentum of everything that falls below the event horizon is preserved.

Is that wrong?

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

vistapwns (1103935) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598305)

Well, this is probably the blind leading the blind because I'm only a laymen as well, but my understanding, is that while a black hole will spin for a very long time, and you may somehow be able to extract energy from that (or not), eventually it will stop spinning and then evaporate. Talking about 10^50 years or more here, so a very long time depending on it's size, but eventually it will not be useful to any thing still around. Like I said, this device, will never stop, in theory.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598267)

I didn't know that anyone had a problem with perpetual motion on frictionless surfaces. After all... isn't that how galaxies keep spinning forever? If there's no friction then there's no entropy and of course you can keep doing it.

Am I missing something here?

Galaxies don't spin forever.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598325)

Why would they stop? What stops them? My understanding, and appreciate I am a laymen that makes no claim to a deep understanding of the subject, is that large bodies basically follow Newton's laws of motion. And that means they keep spinning unless something causes them to slow or stop.

Now, you're saying something always slows or stops galaxies. What are we talking about here? Galaxies colliding into each other?

I believe someone else said something about blackholes stopping glaxeys but in that case wouldn't it be more valid to say that the galaxy BECAME a black hole rather then saying the black stopped the galaxy? Especially since we're talking about the spin of the galaxy. And my understanding... limited though it might be... is that blackholes generally spin... very very quickly... with incredible energy.

Furthermore, is every galaxy destined to be sucked into a blackhole at its center? Certainly there would have to be some matter that was simply beyond its reach or moving at the wrong orbit or too fast or something to ever be pulled into THAT black hole. And that being the case couldn't that matter spin around the core forever.

I don't understand what force is supposed to stop the galaxies.

If I have a really big rock and I throw a golf ball so it orbits that really big rock... how is that not forever? Where is the entropy?

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (3, Interesting)

vistapwns (1103935) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598381)

Well, the galaxy is not spinning as you think of it with stars at a constant orbit. What happens is the galaxy's gravitational field is pulling everything towards everything else in the galaxy, very slowly, so it's more like water going down a huge drain, where it circles a few times then goes poof. Same principle with our sun and planets (or your golf ball example), it appears they spin forever at constant distance, but they are slowly being sucked into the sun. So yea the galaxy collapses into the black hole, but the black hole is just a manifestation of the gravity that caused the thing to circle in the first place, and then swallowed it all up so it spins no more. Point is, galaxies are not an eternal event no matter how it plays out, and it must always die and become useless. Where as this thing in the article, possibly does works forever.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598431)

I don't know the specific details about our solar system, but I wouldn't claim that all planets are slowly falling into the sun. Some could be slowly escaping from the sun as well.

As I understand the moon is slowly distancing itself from earth. In other words things can fall away from a black hole given enough distance and velocity. Surely this holds true for things outside of galaxies. It is kind of hard to say for certain that there is enough matter evenly distributed in all directions to influence all the visible matter that we can see at some point in the future. Perpetual motion is theoretically possible. Given a simple universe without much complexity its very likely.

The article describes something different then perpetual motion though in its most technical sense.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598671)

The moon pulls water in the seas out on the nearest and furthest sides of the earth (the tides). Due to the earth's rotation those bulges actually move ahead of the moon ever so slightly. That means there's more mass ahead of the moon than behind, so the moon gets pulled forward. This is known as tidal acceleration. The effect is that the moon is getting a slingshot effect, ever so slowly speeding up. That's what moves it into a higher orbit and will eventually sling it away from the earth entirely.

It's not to do with distance/velocity but rather a slingshot effect - but that's not to say that some stars/systems within a galaxy aren't getting other slingshot effects off each other.

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598875)

ah but the universe and galaxies are expanding not shrinking as you seem to think.

however i do agree there will be a time when they die, nothing is forever

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598627)

Basically, yes, it is just a frictionless loop.
It might not even last forever, just longer than we know. (like those galaxies you mentioned, they will stop eventually, either by colliding with other galaxies or weirder things)

Won't be useful for anything, like all those overunity retards that are foaming at the mouth think. God I hate them so much.
It is even more annoying when these idiots flock to youtube videos of people making extremely efficient electronics circuits connected to solar panels and "free energy" in the title or description.
"OH HEY I SEE YOU ARE GETTING OVERUNITY THERE, KEEP IT UP, FIGHT THE MACHINE BROTHER." GO EXPLODE.
I seriously saw one of these people make a video in powerpoint with some brand new space program based on using balloons to travel in space. HOW COULD NASA HAVE MISSED THIS?! IT IS SO SIMPLE!
The worst part is they also flock to things like magnet generators used to store energy, not pull it out of thin air. Any magnet + power video = overunity. Remember that. Tell nobody. Down with science. That shits nearly a religion with some people.

Could our physics be wrong and there are ways to get insane amounts of energy apparently out of nothing because we don't understand everything yet? Oh, hell, sure.
So much of our physics shows high energy sources that could be tapped in to that we can't get to yet, and all it requires are initial starting conditions to feed itself,l but that still isn't "overunity".
There is probably even ways to get power from the Casimir force, but not of any decent amount. It'd likely require a stupidly huge construction if it were possible, but all our knowledge points to no one-sided way to take advantage of it because it is all around.
If there was a way to nullify the force using some funky EM field or similar, it could be placed on one side of a plate and bam, there we have a negative pressure on one side. Make that in to a loop, engine, done. But we can't.
All we can hope to do is make devices that run for an extremely long time requiring very little effort to power. (or stupidly efficient solar)

Re:Isn't this just a frictionless surface? (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598787)

...like those galaxies you mentioned, they will stop eventually, either by colliding with other galaxies or weirder things

How about things that are not weird at all? Namely, interstellar and even intergalactic space is not a perfect void. Particles are present there; not very many, but a non-zero amount. You can think of these particles as a very rare gas, and they are often described as such, but it is more a plasma, chiefly ionized hydrogen, consisting of detached protons and electrons. A thin "soup" of subatomic particles in actual fact. This soup exerts a slight slowing on moving objects such as the components of galaxies.

Wait. What? (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598235)

What is your take on it?

Yes, Any other Nobel Prize-winning physicists / Slashdoters with Bose Einstein Condensate experience please chime in.
But first, let me get some pop corn ... /sarcasm

Re:Wait. What? (4, Funny)

six025 (714064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598397)

But first, let me get some pop corn ... /sarcasm

Unlike the experiment, I predict a great deal of energy will be expended by lay people chiming in.

Like the experiment, I proclaim this energy to be perpetual while at the same time achieving nothing. ;-)

Re:Wait. What? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598437)

Reading TFA brought to mind phosphorescence [wikipedia.org] . Traditional thinking is that forbidden quantum states prevent rapid emission of stored energy. But (for example) very fine crystals of zinc sulfide with a copper activator might in fact be exibiting this "time crystal" effect. The break in the symmetry of time might be what allows the energy to escape.

So in short, this research may lead to new phosphorescent chemicals or a better understanding of them.

What does this have to do with time? (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598269)

I'll admit I'm not the brightest of people (public school education), but I can't figure exactly what this has to do with time. Any chance of you higher educated science folks want to explain this a bit better?

Re:What does this have to do with time? (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598309)

Don't feel too bad, I have a bachelors degree in computer science, I took the first year physics courses for engineers, my father has a Phd in Metallurgy and a Masters in Engineering.

Let's just say I've been steeped in science since I was 10.

And that shit went right the fuck over my head.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598341)

I'll admit I'm not the brightest of people (public school education), but I can't figure exactly what this has to do with time. Any chance of you higher educated science folks want to explain this a bit better?

Time is defined as the direction in which entropy increases (energy is expended to do something). If this crystal is not expending energy, it is stuck in time. Or something like that.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598729)

I'll admit I'm not the brightest of people (public school education), but I can't figure exactly what this has to do with time. Any chance of you higher educated science folks want to explain this a bit better?

Time is defined as the direction in which entropy increases (energy is expended to do something). If this crystal is not expending energy, it is stuck in time. Or something like that.

Except that as you are observing it, time passes.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43599105)

It's not certain that time even exists in a fundamental sense, some physicists think it could be an illusion. The principle that there is such a thing as entropy, and that it always tends to increase, corresponds with what we perceive but really is a bit of an invention to explain why the arrow of time only happens to flow in one direction despite the fact that all the equations are still perfectly valid with it going backwards.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (5, Funny)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598349)

Well, after we produce 6 time crystals we can assemble the key to time. Frank Wilczek is really the Black Guardian in disguise, but the Berkeley physicist heading up the project won't figure this out until the last Slashdot article in the series.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

ceview (2857765) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598369)

It might be that time is important in the sense that it provides an asymmetry in that there is a direction to time when you observe an energy change. The idea that energy goes somewhere else, decays to somewhere else ( like heat) in a particular time direction. For example at time A energy goes from one level to another , to time point B. The experiment may suggest that under those special conditions time is symmetrical, there is no before or after event or that they can interchange with no energy changes. Just my interpretation here.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598385)

A crystal's structure repeats through space - the bit at x+1 looks just like the bit at x. This thing's structure repeats through time - at t+1 it will look identical to how it did at t.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598673)

*Most* crystals look the same at t+1 and t.

More generally, t != t + 1 and t + n = t + xn for some n and all x (where x is an integer)

Re:What does this have to do with time? (5, Informative)

akh (240886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598409)

IINAScientist but here's how I understand it. Three-dimensional crystals form a regular, repeating lattice in the three spacial dimensions. These lattices are stable and need no energy input to retain their structure. Hypothetically, time crystals extend that lattice into a fourth dimension (time), treating time more-or-less as a spacial dimension. Given that the structure is crystalline, no energy is needed to maintain it even though its 3-dimensional structure, dimensions, etc. may appear to vary over time. Such structures are so far only hypothetical; the goal of this experiment is to attempt to create one.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598457)

I'll admit I'm not the brightest of people (public school education), but I can't figure exactly what this has to do with time. Any chance of you higher educated science folks want to explain this a bit better?

You don't even have to read TFA, the excerpt in the post is enough:

"[...] move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks [...]"

Clock, time. Get the connection?

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598739)

I'll admit I'm not the brightest of people (public school education), but I can't figure exactly what this has to do with time. Any chance of you higher educated science folks want to explain this a bit better?

You don't even have to read TFA, the excerpt in the post is enough:

"[...] move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks [...]"

Clock, time. Get the connection?

You don't understand it either.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

aix tom (902140) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598461)

The way I read it the "long, thing crystals" go around in circles so they somewhat resemble an analogue watch, so you could possibly use them to build timepieces for the super-rich that don't know on what else to spend their money on.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (2)

negablade (2745981) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598479)

Well, a crystal is a repeating arrangement in space where each atom occurs in certain regular positions in the crystal structure. If you look along any direction in the crystal the crystal lattice is repeating and predictable. A time crystal is the same idea but it is repeating in the direction of time. For instance any shape that changes but repeats that same pattern over time in a regular and ordered way would be a time crystal. I'm sure this is a simplification. For instance, I suspect a simple mechanical device (such as a clock) wouldn't constitute a time crystal any more than a tank full of loose balls would constitute a spacial crystal. In fact, I suspect the time crystal would need to be self organising in the same way that a spacial crystal self organises. In other words, the time crystal cycle is self perpetuating, hence the link to perpetual motion and the rather uncomfortable feeling that something might not be correct in the theory. In a spacial crystal it is the charges in the atoms and ionic bonds that self organise the crystal. For a time crystal (and I'm speculating here since I haven't read the arXiv article), maybe the transfer of energy or spin around the crystal would self organise the time crystal.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598749)

Well, a crystal is a repeating arrangement in space where each atom occurs in certain regular positions in the crystal structure. If you look along any direction in the crystal the crystal lattice is repeating and predictable. A time crystal is the same idea but it is repeating in the direction of time. For instance any shape that changes but repeats that same pattern over time in a regular and ordered way would be a time crystal.

I'm sure this is a simplification. For instance, I suspect a simple mechanical device (such as a clock) wouldn't constitute a time crystal any more than a tank full of loose balls would constitute a spacial crystal. In fact, I suspect the time crystal would need to be self organising in the same way that a spacial crystal self organises. In other words, the time crystal cycle is self perpetuating, hence the link to perpetual motion and the rather uncomfortable feeling that something might not be correct in the theory. In a spacial crystal it is the charges in the atoms and ionic bonds that self organise the crystal. For a time crystal (and I'm speculating here since I haven't read the arXiv article), maybe the transfer of energy or spin around the crystal would self organise the time crystal.

Okay, I'm understanding what you are saying. Guess it just seems weird because it would seem time isn't solid, but what the article is suggesting that it is.

Re:What does this have to do with time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598483)

Time crystals, if they exist, will provide us with the necessary key material to build the time cube [timecube.com] .

Re:What does this have to do with time? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598827)

The explanation is that if you can hint at time travel or faster than light travel in an article, it generates interest, and therefore pageviews, and therefore advertising revenue.

Sad. Super Duper Sad. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598283)

It always saddens me when scientists are afraid of looking like fools. Fortunately this one over came his fear.

Re:Sad. Super Duper Sad. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598449)

Just like how you overcame your fear of looking like a fool by posting the crap above!

Its the auditors... (3, Funny)

shadowmas (697397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598423)

OMG the auditors [wikipedia.org] are back at it. Somebody find Susan.

Re:Its the auditors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598455)

If someone is playing with Time Crystals, it's Susan's Grandfather you want not Susan!

Re:Its the auditors... (1)

shadowmas (697397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598543)

Susans grandfather can't directly interfere (See hogfather) so it's susan we need.

Re:Its the auditors... (1)

deimtee (762122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598603)

It's not Susan you need, it's a box of chocolates.

Re:Its the auditors... (0)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598613)

I think he was referencing The Doctor and his first companion/granddaughter Susan; not Death of the discworld and his granddaughter also named Susan.

Re:Its the auditors... (1)

shadowmas (697397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598617)

Ahh. I forgot about him, makes more sense now.

Full paper (1, Troll)

hex socket (1289574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598495)

The full paper is available on the researcher's website: http://timecube.com/ [timecube.com]

Yuck (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598549)

All these times we've been complaining how the "editors" were trolling with their crap story selection. And now, for once an editor selects an interesting and relevant story, and all the comments are at the level of 4chan crap.

Slashdot really has fell off the cliff.

Re:Yuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598607)

The grammar has fallen, too.

Re:Yuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598835)

Your anality thus proves GP's point.

Re:Yuck (3, Funny)

delt0r (999393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598779)

/. was always off the cliff. You just old enough to notice now.

Re:Yuck (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598795)

I don't know, my impression is that the cream is as good as the cream ever was, and the crap is as bad as the crap always was, and it is not necessary for the cream to volumetrically overcome the crap in order for it to be informative and stimulating.

Re:Yuck (1)

dwsobw (2723483) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599067)

A bunch of physicists debating the merrits of a certain technical detail of their lastest super computer will be similarily insightful as the comments here ...

How is this different to harmonic oscilator? (4, Interesting)

Grantbridge (1377621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598637)

In all chemical bonds the ground state has non-zero energy which results in a vibration of the two atoms. They will vibrate backwards and forwards forever as there is no lower quantum state to lose energy to. This doesn't really seem all that different, other than they're making a rotating non-zero ground state.

Re:How is this different to harmonic oscilator? (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598803)

Parent is highly informative. Quantum theory is difficult for me to follow (and, yes, difficult for me to accept - but not impossible), and this idea did not occur to me, but it makes sense.

Re:How is this different to harmonic oscilator? (4, Informative)

Richard Kirk (535523) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599069)

Ok, I'll have a stab at it. First of all, ignore the 'crystals of time' hoopla. This is not helpful.

Imagine a hydrogen atom with one electron and a fixed nucleus. The electron will be in a certain orbital. If you are thinking of the atom according to the Bohr model, the the electron is going around the nucleus like a planet around the sun. However, the position of the electron, or rather the probably of finding the electron in any particular position, is determined by a wave-function. This wave-function is a complex number that varies with space, and possibly with time too. You cannot measure this complex function directly, but if you can detect the particle somehow, you might learn something about the value the wave function had before the measurement started.

Actually, the stable hydrogen atom wave-function is simple and calculable, and just like the simple harmonic oscillator, it does not change with time. The electron is in a stable orbit, and will need to lose energy or gain energy to go to a different orbit. The same is true for many much more complex wave-functions. If you have a current running in a superconducting loop, then all the electrons in the superconducting band can be described by a single giant wave-function. You still have all the individual electrons, but they are all moving in a coherent manner, so they are not losing energy. Indeed, they probably got into that state by taking energy from the giant wave-state, until it reached some local stable minimum. And even though you may have billions of electrons in the wave-state, the wave-function does not change with time unless something disturbs it.

Okay, the idea of sucking out energy until a particle or a system reaches a stable state is pretty common, but it is not necessarily universal. You could have two hydrogen atoms, one with the electron in the ground state, and one with the electron in an excited state; and the second atom loses its energy to the first one, and after a while, the first atom gives it back to the second one again, and so it goes on. In real life, the atom would probably emit a photon that would not get caught by the other one, and that would be the end of it. But if you could somehow constrain the photon to just bounce between the two atoms, then you have two electron wave functions that are perpetually flipping between two states in such a way that energy is preserved. This cyclic flipping would mean that the whole system gets back to where it was a short while ago: it is something that happens at regular intervals in time, hence the 'crystals in time' bit. Ugh. Can we describe the whole system, including whatever it is that constrains it by a bigger wave-function that does not change with time, like our superconductors? It's a bit unlikely, because the jumping between states and emitting or absorbing a photon is a sudden transition, where the super-electron interactions were smooth and continuous. But there might be a way.

Thiotimoline (3, Informative)

djl4570 (801529) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598639)

Wasn't all of this in "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" by Asimov?

Thiotimoline, or a Shipstone, perhaps? (4, Informative)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598997)

Wasn't all of this in "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" by Asimov?

heh...glad I'm not the only one who made that connection. That was a specific carbon compound, IIRC, that dissolved 1.12 seconds before water hit it, and Asimov's clever scientists and engineers figured out how to power a stardrive with it. Wonder what would happen if engineers figured out how to move energy into this time cube and then extract it later on. Might be a shipstone in the making... :) (I like Asimov a lot, but Heinlein is a better story teller.)

perpetual motion OK, but won't generate energy (3, Insightful)

dltaylor (7510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598679)

At the quantum level, a "ring around the rosie" dance of atoms (really just nodes of a complex wave function) in a BEC is a freebie, however delicately balanced. Provided the containment isn't perturbed, there's no input energy required to keep things "moving". However, any attempt to extract energy from the setup will cause it to collapse. Even extracting information, such as the spin of the BEC will have to provide all of the energy in the probe.

any magic fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43598775)

this totally reminds me of sol ring, if anyone plays
http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=247533

perpetual motion (1)

ssam (2723487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598941)

the term perpetual motion is used in different ways. usually to imply that something is a magical source of endless motion.

There are actually plenty of physical systems that will move for ever. anything that moves with no friction. bodies in space is almost an example of this, but would actually be a small friction from interstellar (and intergalactic) gas and dust, and interaction with CMBR. also there are plenty of quantum 'motions' that could qualify. you can't extract energy from these systems without slowing them. in the quantum case they might still 'move' in the ground state, so you can't extract that energy.

Then there are the crazy mechanical designs that people invent. generally (ignoring the flat out fraudsters) the inventor believes that they have found a system that generates a perpetual force that for example rotates a wheel. They usually believe that they just need to get the friction a bit lower, and then it will run. This is a good example http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/museum/unwork.htm#stevinprob [lhup.edu] (in fact everone should go and read that whole site.)

Big stumbling block (2)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about a year and a half ago | (#43598969)

How exactly do they plan to first resurrect both Jim Henson and Madeline L'Engle?
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