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Thread: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

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    Default Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    Scientists have confirmed a brand new phase of matter: time crystals
    Constant motion without energy.
    Fiona MacDonald - 28 JAN 2017



    From the Article:
    Quote 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 constant oscillation 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 phase of matter.

    The discovery might sound pretty abstract, but it heralds in a whole new era in physics - for decades we've been studying matter that's defined as being 'in equilibrium', such as metals and insulators.

    But it's been predicted that there are many more strange types of matter out there in the Universe that aren't in equilibrium that we haven't even begun to look into, including time crystals. And now we know they're real.

    The fact that we now have the first example of non-equilibrium matter could lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the world around us, as well as new technology such as quantum computing.

    "This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter," said lead researcher Norman Yao from the University of California, Berkeley.


    First predicted by Nobel-Prize winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek back in 2012, time crystals are structures that appear to have movement even at their lowest energy state, known as a ground state.

    [for some reason this rings up a forum post on ground states that Bob brought up Here ]

    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.

    But Wilczek predicted that this might not actually be the case for time crystals.

    Normal crystals have an atomic structure that repeats in space - just like the carbon lattice of a diamond. But, just like a ruby or a diamond, they're motionless because they're in equilibrium in their ground state.

    But time crystals have a structure that repeats in time, not just in space. And it keep oscillating in its ground state.

    Imagine it like jelly - when you tap it, it repeatedly jiggles. The same thing happens in time crystals, but the big difference here is that the motion occurs without any energy.
    [other than the lasers that are hitting it?]

    A time crystal is like constantly oscillating jelly in its natural, ground state, and that's what makes it a whole new phase of matter - non-equilibrium matter. It's incapable of sitting still.

    ...

    The University of Maryland's time crystals were created by taking a conga line of 10 ytterbium ions, all with entangled electron spins.

    The key to turning that set-up into a time crystal was to keep the ions out of equilibrium, and to do that the researchers alternately hit them with two lasers. One laser created a magnetic field and the second laser partially flipped the spins of the atoms.

    Because the spins of all the atoms were entangled, the atoms settled into a stable, repetitive pattern of spin flipping that defines a crystal.

    That was normal enough, but to become a time crystal, the system had to break time symmetry. And observing the ytterbium atom conga line, the researchers noticed it was doing something odd.

    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.

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

    "But that is the essence of the time crystal. You have some periodic driver that has a period 'T', but the system somehow synchronises so that you observe the system oscillating with a period that is larger than 'T'."


    The Harvard time crystal was different. The researchers set it up using densely packed nitrogen vacancy centres in diamonds, but with the same result.

    "Such similar results achieved in two wildly disparate systems underscore that time crystals are a broad new phase of matter, not simply a curiosity relegated to small or narrowly specific systems," explained Phil Richerme from Indiana University, who wasn't involved in the study, in a perspective piece accompanying the paper.

    "Observation of the discrete time crystal... confirms that symmetry breaking can occur in essentially all natural realms, and clears the way to several new avenues of research."

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    As I read that article, all kinds of visions came to mind. However, given that this is a very novel experiment, it is indeed hard to prognosticate the possibilities implied.
    I wonder, if time crystals are a form of perpetual motion machine, which of course has been discounted by standard physics for violating energy conservation.
    The interesting thing is that the universe is constantly violating its own rules.
    For example, just recently, the expansion of the universe was remeasured and confirmed that it is indeed accelerating even faster.(see http://www.space.com/35459-universe-...-constant.html)
    Well, acceleration implies injection of more energy from somewhere, right? But where? Well, it is easy to say "from another universe of course". But then the definition of universe is broken since universe implies all existence, including the silly notion of infinite universes (a contradiction in terms).

    So back to time crystals....
    Just what are they and what does it mean?
    Cheers.

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    Read the first complete sentence in bold letters, 3/4 of the way down, the one starting "The key to turning that set-up into a time crystal..." in the OP then read this:

    -Forcing the object to contain an electromagnetic field intrinsic to its structure that is strong enough to cause its continual oscillation.

    That explains its non-equilibrium state fairly well.
    Last edited by boutreality; 2nd February 2017 at 21:38.

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    -A lighthearted interjection -

    I note that we often seem to later discover that which we have speculated on in theory, quarks, higgs-bosun etc. Now 'time crystals'.

    Somewhere, on the other side of the universe, an nth dimensional being gazes at his latest creation with something we might recognise as satisfaction. It took 3,780 earth days for him to materialise this intricate thought form but as he examines the creation there is a subtle change. A ripple of sub-particles. What was once magnificent has taken on strident tones, almost ugly. With a sigh he puts his head in many hands, nth dimesionally speaking, and briefly thinks...

    'What the beep beep have those idiots done now!'

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    Thanks, BongoBob for posting such an interesting topic.
    For anyone who wants to see the math behind this discovery, here's a summary:

    Click image for larger version

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    So it seems that zero-point motion has been studied and accomplished via many other mechanisms. At least I think I now understand what is meant by it.
    Basically, if I understand correctly, zero-point motion involves cooling matter to absolute zero and observing the quantum fluctuations.
    This link elaborates it a bit more: http://einstein.sc.mahidol.ac.th/~sc...AQ/node24.html

    This paper seems far more important, linking zero-point motion to dark energy (the thing that is accelerating the expansion of the observable universe):
    https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1111/1111.4623.pdf

    How these crystals are meaningful to all these things remains to be discovered.

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    Default Re: Time Crystals and the Non-Equilibrium Matter State

    Intranuclear-

    This constitutes a source for energy accomplished WITHOUT anything the Zero Point model requires. Calling it zero-point motion is a misnomer.

    To restate from my earlier post here:

    This fourth state of matter results from physical, ground state matter being shifted into this "new" forth state through a process that forces an electromagnetic field that is intrinsic to the sub-molecular make up of the object, the strength of this field causes its non equilibrium state.
    Last edited by boutreality; 2nd February 2017 at 21:48.

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