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Developers Envision a Space Time Crystal for Eternity

By - Source: Berkeley Lab | B 21 comments
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Researchers at Berkeley Lab of the U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory have come forward with the idea to build the first space time crystal.

This device could deliver groundbreaking insight into physics and will be able to keep the correct time until after the universe dies.

The projected crystal will be a 4D construct that is characterized by a periodic structure in time as well as space. If built, scientists hope they will be able to study the properties and behaviors during interactions of large numbers of particles, which is commonly known as the many-body problem in physics. There is also the vision that a space time crystal would be useful to dive deeper into quantum physics, including particle entanglement over close and far distances.

Xiang Zhang, a faculty scientistwith Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division who led the space time crystal research, explained that "the electric field of an ion trap holds charged particles in place and Coulomb repulsion causes them to spontaneously form a spatial ring crystal". He added: "Under the application of a weak static magnetic field, this ring-shaped ion crystal will begin a rotation that will never stop. The persistent rotation of trapped ions produces temporal order, leading to the formation of a space-time crystal at the lowest quantum energy state."

Since this crystal is already at its lowest quantum energy state, its time keeping will persist for eternity even until the universe reaches its "heat-death", the scientists said. Despite its continued motion, the scientists said that the crystal would not represent a perpetuum mobile as the structures does not deliver energy.

According to Zhang, the "main challenge" in creating the crystal "will be to cool an ion ring to its ground state." He believes that this will be possible "in the near future with the development of ion trap technologies."

 

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  • 33 Hide
    vittau , September 30, 2012 4:13 AM
    I can't even understand what this is, or what purpose it has, but yay for science!!
  • 10 Hide
    husker , September 30, 2012 5:29 AM
    If the object is 4D, then it exists partly in the current time and partly in the future/past. This is different from something that is 3D and simply moving through time (as we all do) because it is never fully in any one time, as we are.
Other Comments
  • 33 Hide
    vittau , September 30, 2012 4:13 AM
    I can't even understand what this is, or what purpose it has, but yay for science!!
  • -5 Hide
    beayn , September 30, 2012 4:41 AM
    vittauI can't even understand what this is, or what purpose it has, but yay for science!!
    Uh something about a crystal, ions and keeping time for a long time. I don't get it either. Saying it was 4D made me think it was a joke for a minute, since I once convinced a know-it-all that the next nVidia card was going to be 4D instead of 3D and would be infinitely fast since it worked with time.
  • -3 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , September 30, 2012 4:42 AM
    So in other words i'll never have to worry about my watch dying and replacing the batteries ever again? :) 
  • 10 Hide
    husker , September 30, 2012 5:29 AM
    If the object is 4D, then it exists partly in the current time and partly in the future/past. This is different from something that is 3D and simply moving through time (as we all do) because it is never fully in any one time, as we are.
  • -5 Hide
    atavanhalen00 , September 30, 2012 6:00 AM
    Does it mean that they can make a watch thingy that never loses a second! or a zero energy watch thingy that will never go out.
  • 0 Hide
    QEFX , September 30, 2012 7:01 AM
    The 1st part of my TARDIS.
  • 7 Hide
    Gundam288 , September 30, 2012 9:11 AM
    atavanhalen00Does it mean that they can make a watch thingy that never loses a second! or a zero energy watch thingy that will never go out.



    It's mainly that they can make a clock that will never be off. even atomic clocks are off by a very small fraction of a second after 1,000's of years.

    From just skimming it, they apperently want to have it "Predict" the time it will be rather than tell what the current time is, which is what all or most clocks that we use in a day to day basis. At least that is how I understand it.

    If they solve the Ion trap problem and build it, we might be able to expect this to be in our watchs/clocks in 100 years after the 1st one is built, provided tech. keeps going to way it is today by my best guess.


    But I think the bigger question should be. Will the general pop. even be using a watch when they build the 1st one? Not many people use watches anymore (I think I'm one of the rare few who still do, at least from what I've seen), I'm seeing more and more people use their phones as watches and calanders, among other things.


    Who knows, maybe sometime in the future, phones will be worn like watches and have a holographic interactive display.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 30, 2012 10:33 AM
    ummm...accurate time keeping like this could provide could be usefull for all kinds of technology, computers, GPS, all kinds of research and so on. What its NOT relevant for is a wrist watch used to tell when its lunch time geez
  • -5 Hide
    murzar , September 30, 2012 11:38 AM
    Can it run Crysis?
  • 5 Hide
    nieur , September 30, 2012 12:24 PM
    Even if I don't understand quantum physics. All the Science related stuff amazes me
    Respect for all the scientist around the globe
  • 4 Hide
    Prescott_666 , September 30, 2012 2:50 PM
    This is not a clock. A clock displays the time, this does not. If you want to compare it to something think of it as being like the quartz crystal in your watch. This will not be built into watches, or consumer clocks. For one thing the ion trap must be kept at near absolute zero. Put that on your arm.

    If this is ever actually created, itwill be the ultimate time standard at the National Bureaus of Standards of major nations, and atomic clocks around the world in smaller countries will be synced to it/them.

    And then Network Time Protocol Servers will be synced to them. Finally (and this is long overdue in my opinion) your house clocks and watches will be synced with the clock in your computer with NFC.
  • 8 Hide
    TechEnt , September 30, 2012 4:37 PM
    Space and time are not constant. I believe the purpose behind this is to create a device that is constant. As space and time are compressed and expanded, it would allow us to measure that compression/expansion. However, I believe this will be subject to space and time compression/expansion as well, but maybe not as much as we (or clocks) are.
  • 0 Hide
    thecolorblue , September 30, 2012 7:08 PM
    lowest quantum energy state sounds eerily familiar to creating a pocket of lower energy vacuum than the current vacuum energy state (that is to someone like me who only reads physics books for the layman).

    anybody know if this is the case? because the creation of a pocket of vacuum that has a lower energy state than the energy state of the current vaccum would instantly create a big-bang like event at the site of the new lower energy vaccum and would expand at the speed of light destroying the universe as it goes.

    then again, if humans are capable of doing this then presumably other civilizations would have no trouble and we haven't seen any distant galaxies being torn asunder, so I'd venture that there's little chance of humans thinking up a trick to accidentally destroy anything other than our environment.

    2c
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , September 30, 2012 10:20 PM
    "will be able to keep the correct time until after the universe dies."
    -Universe ends-
    Me: WHEW! That was close. I thought for a second I'd be unable to keep time anymore.

    Glad to see we're doing some productive stuff.
  • 1 Hide
    gerchokas , September 30, 2012 11:05 PM
    huskerIf the object is 4D, then it exists partly in the current time and partly in the future/past. This is different from something that is 3D and simply moving through time (as we all do) because it is never fully in any one time, as we are.


    4 dimensions is X, Y, Z (3D) and Time, which is the 4th. Not "past and future" stuff. Everythings 4D, because it exists in space and time.
    Also, according to whose theory you wish to listen to, "past" and "future" dont really exist, they're like colours, just subjective interpretations of a very limited being trying to make sense of the world.
  • -1 Hide
    PTNLemay , October 1, 2012 12:13 AM
    But wouldn't you have to destroy this "clock" in order to read it? That's usually how quantum effects work, is it not?

    So... maybe they'd build them in batches of hundreds of identical ones, then you can check them only so many times as there are units. Each time you check you'd destroy one, and assume that it's measurement is equivalent to all the others.
  • -1 Hide
    jackt , October 1, 2012 2:47 AM
    This is flashing !
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2012 3:10 AM
    this is for time machine....
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2012 12:21 PM
    Time is always one second per second, it doesn't change, and you had better hope it doesn't if you want science to work since all science is based on ratio and interval. Also, a clock doesn't actually measure time itself, nothing really can. Clocks measure some kind of consistent cycle or change like the swing of a pendelum, number of ocillations of a quartz crystal, phases of the moon, number of sun rises, etc. You can improve the accuracy of your clock but only in relation to some other clock, not time itself. Strange that the article talks about space time since nothing actually moves in space time, it's a mathematical space not an actual space, and is not capable of modeling the behavior of such complex movements such as an object at rest that begins to accelerate.
  • 1 Hide
    willard , October 1, 2012 2:29 PM
    huskerIf the object is 4D, then it exists partly in the current time and partly in the future/past. This is different from something that is 3D and simply moving through time (as we all do) because it is never fully in any one time, as we are.

    Actually, all things are 4D. Three dimensional objects exist in the fourth dimension (time), but are unable to influence their position in this dimension.

    What makes this interesting isn't that it's a four dimensional object, but a four dimensional crystal. The well ordered, repeating structure of such an object would include the fourth dimension (meaning it cycles through a set of states endlessly and without variation).
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